Jan van Bronchorst was the son of a gardener. He began his studies aged 11 in Utrecht with the stained-glass painter Jan Verbuch. He continued his training in France, first in Arras with Pieter Mathys, and a year and a half later in Paris, where he is documented in the workshop of Chamu, one of the leading stained-glass painters in France. On his return to the Low Countries, Van Bronchorst settled in Utrecht where he acquired citizenship in 1622 and married Catalijntje van Noort in 1626. During this period the artist worked as an independent master, undertaking small commissions for private clients such as coats-of-arms and other heraldic motifs. In the late 1620s he started to receive lessons in painting in the studio of the Caravaggesque painter Gerrit van Honthorst. Initially Van Bronchorst produced prints based on works by Cornelis van Poelenburgh then later started to execute his own drawings, focusing on oil painting from the mid-1630s. In 1639 he is registered in the painters’ guild in Utrecht. Van Bronchorst’s early works reveal the influence of Flemish painting as well as that of the Utrecht Caravaggisti. His compositions are characterised by a certain theatricality derived from Rubens, while the marked contrasts of light and the use of a cool palette looks to the work of Honthorst and Ter Brugghen.
From 1647 Van Bronchorst, who continued to work as a stained-glass designer, began to receive major commissions such as the decoration of the windows for the Neuwe Kerk and the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. In 1650 he moved to that city where he lived until his death and where he was involved in the most important decorative projects of the day, including the new Town Hall and the Stadhuis (now the Royal Palace). Two of his sons, Johannes and Gerrit van Bronchorst, became painters.