Nicolaas Verkolje was born in Delft and studied painting under his father Jan Verkolje. His father died when he was only twenty, but by then Nicolaas was almost fully trained. Like his father, he was an adaptable artist, proficient in painting portraits, genre scenes and mythological paintings, and was also a talented mezzotint artist.
In 1700 Nicolaas moved to Amsterdam, where he remained until his death. There, the style of his work oscillated between pictures that were akin to the realistic style of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings, and those that were more attractive to eighteenth-century classical tastes.