Due to his weak health, the Rotterdam-born Jan Boom learned to paint according to the old tradition in private workshops. In 1940 he decided to continue as an independent artist. He initially painted figures and genre scenes. But he also went out to document life in the working-class neighbourhoods and harbours. Jan Boom was a painter of cityscapes, portraits, figures and especially still lifes. Ultimately, the still life became his main subject. By the 1990s these became more and more diffuse.