Jan Miense Molenaer was born in Haarlem and lived there or in nearby Heemstede. In 1634 he was listed as member of the Guild of St. Luke in Haarlem. In 1636 he married the painter Judith Leyster. Both Molenaer and Leyster may have been pupils of Frans Hals and were certainly influenced by both his style and subject matter. Dirck Hals’ influence was also very important for him, for it inspired Molenaer to paint merry company scenes.
Molenaer is recorded in Amsterdam in the late 1630s and in the 1640s. He died in Haarlem. Molenaer was more learned and well-read than many other painters, as he got his inspiration from proverbs and poems by Jacob Cats and Gerbrand Adriaensz. Bredero. He painted a wide variety of genre subjects, including tavern interiors, representations of the five senses, weddings, merry companies and schools, as well as some family portraits.