According to Houbraken "Jakob Ugtervelt" was a pupil of N. Berchem during the same period as "Pieter de Hooge" (Hooch), who was famed for his interior conversation pieces with lords and ladies, but without much perspective in his backgrounds, which takes a certain amount of mathematical insight and skill. The way this comment was written leaves the reader questioning whether Houbraken meant Hooch or Ochtervelt who was poor in perspective. According to Abraham Jacob van der Aa's later biography of him, his style was more in keeping with Gerard Terburg or Gabriel Metzu, and in addition to sharing Berchem's studio with Hooch, he had been a pupil of Frans van Mieris the Elder.
According to the Netherlands Institute for Art History, he was active in Haarlem where he was a student of Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem and later he moved back to Rotterdam (1655–1672) where he was a pupil of Ludolf de Jongh (who also taught Pieter de Hooch). After the 1672 disaster year he moved to Amsterdam.