This artist adopted the name of Aachen, the name of a well known German town from where his family originated. Showing great talent for drawing at a very young age, he worked as an apprentice for Jerrigh, a Flemish painter who had settled in Cologne. Johann von Aachen visited Venice around 1574 and was much impressed by the works of Tintoretto, which he saw there. He then came to Rome and one of his first works, an altar piece, was a Nativity. He also painted the portrait of Madonna Venusta, a famous musician, whom he represented playing a luth instrument while showing himself holding a cup of wine. The painter went on to paint the portrait of Madonna Laura, a poetess, which earned him a solid reputation. After a four-year stay in Italy, he visited Cologne before going to Munich where he painted a «Resurrection» and portraits of members of the family of Prince Willem V.
Von Aachen was invited afterwards by Emperor Rudolph II in Prague, where he painted a work titled «Venus and Adonis» that was so impressive that the Monarch appointed him as his official painter.
despite his interest for Tintoretto, von Aachen seemed to be much influenced by Spranger and Corregio. His Bethsabe bathing, now in Vienna, was considered as his masterpiece. Several of his works can be found in the museums of Cologne, Gratz, Hanover, London, Valenciennes and Vienna.