Balthasar van der Ast was born in Middelburg. His father, Hans, was a widower and when he died in 1609, Balthasar moved in with his older sister Maria, and his brother-in-law, the prominent Dutch painter Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder. He was trained by Bosschaert as a still life painter. In turn, the three sons of Ambrosius Bosschaert, Ambrosius the Younger, Johannes and Abraham were trained by van der Ast upon the death of their father. Together the group of painters is sometimes referred to as the Bosschaert dynasty.
Van der Ast accompanied the Bosschaert family in their move in 1615 to Bergen op Zoom and in 1619 to Utrecht, where van der Ast entered the Utrecht Guild of St.Luke. Besides the Bosschaerts, his pupils were Anthony Claesz and Johannes Baers. It’s also likely that Jan Davidsz. de Heem was van der Ast’s pupil in Utrecht.
Van der Ast remained in Utrecht until 1632, when he moved to Delft. In 1633 he married Margrieta Jans van Buijeren. They lived in a House at the `Oude Delft until his death in 1657, when he was buried in the famous Oude Kerk.
The National Gallery and the British Museum in London, Birmingham Museum of Art and several other museums have work by van der Ast in their collections.