Cornelis de Heem was the son of Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1683/4), one of the most famous and innovative seventeenth century painters of still life and flower pieces. Born in Leiden in 1631, Cornelis moved to Antwerp in early childhood and studied with his father. He became a member of the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp in 1660/1. The following year he was elected a member of the Old Handbow guild and in 1667 he visited his father, who had moved to Utrecht in the mid-1660s. Subsequently, Cornelis probably moved to Amsterdam. In 1676 he was living in Ijsselstein, whence he moved in the same year to The Hague, where he was a member of the Confrerie Pictura at least until 1687. Around 1690 he returned to Antwerp where he died in 1695.
De Heem painted flower pieces, fruit and banquet pieces, festoons and swags; dated works are known from 1654 to 1671 only. His most accomplished works are extremely fine and inevitably several of his paintings have been ascribed to his illustrious father, so close did the son come to emulating the tradition established by the great master.
The work of Cornelis de Heem is represented in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Alte Pinakothek, Munich; the National Museum, Stockholm; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.