Dirk Hardenstein was born in Zwolle on April 4, 1620, the son of Grietgen Toelincks and Pelgrim Hardenstein, the city’s burgemeester. He lived on the Grote Markt in Zwolle with two sisters and two brothers, one of whom, Reijner, also became burgomaster. In 1665 Dirk married Geesje Klaassen and they lived in the house De Geelen Bee on the Sassenstraat.
Nothing is known about Hardenstein’s training as a painter, and few works by him are known. His rare history paintings, The Countenance of Scipio, 1653, which was commissioned by the city Deventer, and Cimon and Pero, 1653, suggest that he was aware of artistic currents in Utrecht. He only rarely painted landscapes, which follow in the tradition of Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634) from nearby Kampen. It is probable that Hardenstein did not depend exclusively upon painting for his livelihood. A document from 1674 indicates that he worked as a businessman and as a “Provisor” [dispenser] of the hospital in Zwolle.
 For these paintings, see Streng, Jean and Lydie van Dijk, Zwolle in de Gouden Eeuw: cultuur en schilderkunst, Exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum, Zwolle, 1997: 79-80, no. 20-21.
 Vollmer, Hans, ed., Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart 16, Leipzig, 1933: 23.
Houck, M.E., Mededeelingen betreffende Gerhard ter Borch, Robert van Voerst, Pieter van Anraedt, Aleijda Wolfsen, Derck Hardensteijn en Hendrik ter Bruggen benevens aanteekeningen omtrent hunne familieleden, Zwolle, 1899.
Streng, Jean, and Lydie van Dijk. Zwolle in de Gouden Eeuw: cultuur en schilderkunst. Exh. cat. Stedelijk Museum, Zwolle, 1997.