A native of Haarlem, where he was trained, Mandijn moved to Antwerp at some point before 1530, in which city he was based for the remainder of his life. In Antwerp, where he lived with Pieter Aertsen, he appears to have established a position of some importance within the artistic community, his known commissions ranging from the decoration of the triumphal arches for Philip II's entrance into Antwerp in 1549 to the painting of a copper memorial plaque for the Bishop of Dunkeld in Scotland. Some further indication of his ability may perhaps be inferred from his pupils, most noticeably Gillis Mostaert and Bartholomäus Spranger. It has been suggested that Mandijn can be identified with the anonymous Master of Saints Paul and Barnabas, the painter of the eponymous work in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, whose style falls between that of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Jan van Amstel and Jan Sanders van Hemessen.
Given the apparent relative prominence of Mandijn during his life, it is therefore surprising that little is known with certainty of his oeuvre. Much of the cause of this may perhaps be attributed to his status as one of the ablest of those artists so strongly influenced by the work of Hieronymus Bosch. The difficulty of attribution within that field is well known, so dominant within it is the latter's stylistic and iconographic legacy, and much reliance has necessarily been placed upon the few known signed works to establish each artist's corpus. In the case of Mandijn, however, there is only one such example, the Temptation of Saint Anthony in the Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem, around which the artist's oeuvre has been constructed. Given, however, the artist's close stylistic affinity with Pieter Huys, and the fact that the status of the Haarlem painting's signature has been questioned, that construction must inevitably be taken on a pro tempore basis.
That said, the evident quality of the present painting, and its stylistic links with the Haarlem Saint Anthony (as noted, for example, in the 2001-2 exhibition catalogue, loc. cit.) have for some time justified its inclusion within Mandijn's oeuvre: indeed, within that group it is arguably one of the ablest works. Iconographically, as well, the picture is of note, depicting as it does one of the epicentral subjects of the paintings of Bosch and his followers. Deriving in particular from de Voragine's Golden Legend, which recounted with some fascination the fantastic demons that tormented the anchorite in his visions, it represented for Bosch (along with the lives of the other principle hermit saints) an important part of his remarkable vision. For his followers, it represented a crucial opportunity to depict the extraordinary grotesques that were to fascinate and horrify their contemporaries, and that retain today their enduring force.