Nico Cevat returns to Amsterdam with his parents soon after his birth in Germany. When he is ten years old, his father dies. His mother cannot support the family of ten children alone and Nico, together with a few of the other children, is placed in a shelter in Limburg where he is trained as a decorative painter.
In 1907 Cevat starts working as a decorative painter in Theater Bellevue on the Leidsekade, at that time the center of Amsterdam's club life. In the same period he is taught by Simon Maris. It is therefore not surprising that Cevat's style develops according to the Hague School principles. He paints atmospheric summer and winter landscapes, harbor and town views, genre paintings and still lifes in muted colours.
Cevat meanwhile finds work as a restorer at the Stedelijk Museum in Haarlem (later the Frans Hals Museum). In 1911, now married, he moves to Cologne, where he works as a restorer at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. In 1913 the family returns to Amsterdam. During this period, Cevat paints many Amsterdam city and harbor views. Cevat is a member of St. Lucas and Arti et Amicitiae and regularly exhibits at the exhibitions of the associations. In 1917 he wins the Willink van Collen Prize.
In 1922 Cevat takes the big leap across the ocean and leaves for New York with the family, but this time too the foreign adventure does not last long. The following year they are back in Amsterdam again. From then on, Cevat focuses on the art trade and the restoration profession. He also makes free work in his studio at home until a few years before his death in 1955.