Hendrik Spetter was born in Rotterdam as the son of the Jewish bookkeeper Isaac Spetter. Spetter is listed in the population register as a mattress maker, but in reality he followed a much more artistic path. He enrolled at the Academy of Visual Arts in Rotterdam and became a versatile painter, draftsman and watercolorist with his own impressionistic style. He broached various themes in his work; harbor views, cityscapes, portraits, still lifes and nudes. He consciously experienced the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940 and also recorded it on canvas. For example, an oil painting by him with a destroyed Laurenskerk is known.