Jan Both was born around 1615, probably in Utrecht, to the glass painter Dirck Joriaensz. Both and Anna Andriesdr. Schinckels. He was the younger brother of Andries Both (1605/06 or 1611/12-1642). Joachim von Sandrart claimed that during his apprenticeship under Honthorst in Utrecht (ca. 1625/26), he met the two brothers in the "académie" as pupils of Abraham Bloemaert. This is contradicted by the fact that in 1624/25 Dirck Both paid fees to the painters' guild for only one son, probably Andries; corresponding payments from 1634 to 1637 were likely for Jan Both. According to Sandrart, the brothers then travelled to Rome by way of France. Andries is documented in Rouen in 1633 and in Rome beginning in 1635, but Jan in Rome is known to have been in Rome only from 1638. From Easter 1639 to Easter 1641 they lived together in the Strada Vittoria. Around 1640 Jan Both contributed four paintings to a twenty-two-part landscape cycle for King Philip IV's country estate Buen Retiro, near Madrid. Claude Lorrain, Gaspar Dughet and Herman van Swanevelt also participated in the cycle (now in the Prado, Madrid). On 6 September 1641 Jan Both and the Utrecht painter Jan Jansz. van Causteren appeared in Rome to vouch for the painter Isaac Jansz. van Hasselt of Utrecht. In 1642 Jan Both received sixty scudi from Cardinal Antonio Barberini for two paintings. Sandrart relates that the brothers stayed together in Venice, where Andries supposedly fell into a canal and died on 23 March 1642. Jan then returned to Utrecht, leaving Italy in 1643 at the latest, as is attested by a Dutch landscape drawing in Budapest bearing that date. Around 1644 he contributed the landscape background to a portrait of Baron Hermann van Wyttenhorst in Utrecht. Jacob Duck, Cornelis van Poelenburgh (ca. 1593-1667) and Bartholomeus van der Helst also took part in this commission. The art-loving baron owned other pictures by Both as well, including one that he had painted together with Poelenburgh and Jan Baptist Weenix. In 1649 Both sat on the board of directors of Utrecht's Guild of St Luke together with Poelenburgh and Weenix. In that same year he appraised pictures for a lottery in Wijk-bij-Duurstede. Both, who was Catholic, died a bachelor in late July 1652 and was buried in Utrecht on 9 August. Along with Jan Asselijn and the somewhat younger Nicolaes Berchem, Karel DuJardin, Adam Pynacker and Jan Baptist Weenix, Jan Both is one of the leading representatives of the second generation of Dutch Italianists. After his return to Utrecht he made important contributions to the proliferation of the Italianesque landscape in his homeland, even among painters like Aelbert Cuyp of Dordrecht, who had never been to Italy. His style follows that of Paul Bril, Claude Lorrain and Herman van Swanevelt for landscape; Pieter van Saenredam for architecture; and Pieter van Laer for staffage. Sandrart tells us that the brothers divided their labours, Jan painting landscapes and Andries the staffage. Yet joint works of theirs have not been identified with certainty. The staffage in works Both later painted in Utrecht is also attributed to Knüpfer, Poelenburgh and Weenix. Jan Both is also documented as a draughtsman and etcher. Barend Bispinck (1646), Willem de Heusch (1625-1692) and Hendrick Verschuring (1627-1690) were his pupils in Utrecht.