Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek was born in Rotterdam in December of 1875 to painter Johannes van Mastenbroek. The younger Mastenbroek remained in the city of his birth until 1911 when he relocated to The Hague. Mastenbroek, essentially a self-taught artist, worked in both oil and watercolour and often depicted rivers and waterways such as the Maas and the Thames, cityscapes, and port scenes.
As a young man, he was drawn to the work of painters of The Hague School and influenced by the aesthetics espoused by Corot and the French Impressionists as a whole. He is noted for his paintings of the port of Rotterdam, typically preceded by many preliminary sketches, which, among other things, provide a useful record of how the port developed over time.
Mastenbroek won numerous awards for his work, including a first prize medal from the Rotterdam Art Academy in 1897 and a gold medal in Munich in 1901. Over the course of his career, he was also awarded a special gold medal from Queen Wilhelmina of Holland. A first retrospective devoted to Van Mastenbroek and his work was held in 2004 at the Kunsthal in his native Rotterdam.