Willem was born on 3 June 1662, the fourth son of Frans van Mieris the Elder and Cunera van de Cock. He trained with his father and took over the latter’s studio after his sudden death in 1681. On 24 April 1684 he married Agneta Chapman and the couple had three children, including a son, Frans, who also became a painter. He entered the Leiden Guild of St. Luke in 1683 and became an active figure in the local art world. He repeatedly served as the head of the guild and, shortly before 1694, established a drawing academy with the artists, Carel de Moor and Jacob Toorenvliet, which he and de Moor directed until 1736. Willem’s paintings brought good prices and he had many important patrons, the most important of whom was the Leiden textile merchant, Pieter de la Court van der Voort. Van Mieris evidently enjoyed financial success as he owned a succession of pleasure gardens and at the end of his life lived on the elegant Breestraat in Leiden. He seems to have gone blind in later life but survived to the age of eighty-four and was buried in the St. Pieterskerk in Leiden on 27 January, 1747. In addition to his students in the drawing academy, his pupils included his son, Frans van Mieris the Younger and Hironymus van de Mij.
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