As the son and grandson of an artist, painting was in Manus van der Ven's blood. Yet it took until 1904, when he was thirty-eight years old, before he established himself as a free artist in Laren. Before that he had worked as an art teacher at the Quellinus School in Amsterdam and as director of the Hendrik de Keyser Drawing School there. He shared a studio with Frans Langeveld and his former student Jaap Dooijwaard. He found inspiration close to home for his paintings: Laren peasant women at work in their vegetable garden, Laren landscapes and farmyards, usually with a serious atmosphere. An exception to this are flower still lifes, which are usually exuberant and cheerful in colour.