Little is known about the life of Jacob Cornelisz. (1465/1470-1533). Biographer Karel van Mander states that he was born in Oostzaan, a village north of Amsterdam. He probably served his apprenticeship in Haarlem, in the circle of Geertgen tot Sint Jans and seems also to have worked in Amsterdam.
Most of his commissions were for religious works on panels and vaulted church ceilings, although he also painted secular subjects. Van Mander notes that much of his religious art was destroyed during the Reformation, when churches were ransacked throughout Holland. Van Oostsanen was also a renowned sculptor who worked in wood.