Jan Steen was born as a farmer's son in Leiden in 1626. He was taught painting by Dirck Hals at the university of Leiden in 1646. At Utrecht, Steen became a student of N. Kupfer and later also took lessons from A. van Ostede in Haarlem.
In 1648 Jan Steen became a co-founder of the painters' guild "Sint Lucas Gilde" in Leiden. However, after marrying Jan van Goyen's daughter in 1649, he left Leiden to work in The Hague until 1653. Only one year later, from 1654 to 1658 Jan Steen returned to Leiden, where he worked as a painter and pub landlord until the end of his life, interrupted by temporary sojourns to The Hague and Haarlem.
Jan Steen died in Leiden in 1679 and was buried on February 3. As one of the main masters of Dutch genre painting, Jan Steen proved wit and humor and did not shy away from social satire.
Steen mainly produced humorous representations of public life and the tavern, but also calm scenes with moral messages. As a Catholic, he also worked on over 60 religious pieces.