Mari ten Kate grew up in an artistic environment. His father Lambertus built a comprehensive art collection and he was also active as an amateur painter. However, most influence on Mari’s artistic development came from his nine years older brother Herman ten Kate. He had a strong reputation as a painter and taught Mari the basics of painting. Subsequently, Mari studied at the Art Academy of The Hague.
Althought both brothers had a special interest in genre paintings, which show scenes from daily life, their choice of subject was rather different. Where Herman ten Kate specialized in tavern interiors and military scenes, Mari chose more charming and intimate scenes. Apart from painting landscapes, hunting and beach scenes, Mari ten Kate emerged as a painter of children. He painted in a refined, Romantic style and paid much attention to detail as to be seen in this painting.
Mari ten Kate worked and lived in Amsterdam (1850-1871), The Hague (1871-1905) London (1880-1890) and Driebergen (1905-1910). He travelled to Paris, Italy and even to the Dutch Indies (1883) with a recommendation letter of King William III. He was very successful as an artist, both among Dutch collectors and abroad. The vogue for genre painting devoted to themes of childhood increased markedly in the Victorian era.