The son of the nobleman Librecht van Thielen, lord of Couwenberg, and Anna Rigouldts, Jan Philips van Thielen was baptized in the Church of Saint Rombaut in Mechelen on 1 April 1618. He married Francisca de Hemelaer in 1639. The couple had nine children, all of whom were baptized in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Antwerp.
In 1631/1632 the register of the Antwerp Saint Luke's Guild describes Van Thielen as a pupil of his future brother-in-law, the history painter Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637). Van Thielen's career as a flower painter seems to have begun when Daniel Seghers (1590-1661) accepted him as a student, which must have occurred shortly before he became a master in Saint Luke's Guild in 1641/1642.
Van Thielen learned the art of depicting flowers from Seghers and also executed similar types of floral paintings, including bouquets and festoons. He also collaborated with other artists, painting garlands around a cartouche containing a religious image. Van Thielen created about twenty such works with Erasmus Quellinus (1607-1678), his wife's brother-in-law, and worked similarly with Frans Francken the Younger and Cornelis Schut (1597-1655).
Three of Van Thielen's daughters studied with him and became flower painters, but no other pupils are known. On 9 March 1660 he was registered as a buitenpoorter (nonresident citizen) in Antwerp. He must have departed the city shortly thereafter, as he registered as a master painter in Mechelen on 14 October of that year. He apparently resided in Mechelen for the remainder of his life. Van Thielen died in 1667, and was buried at Boisschot, just east of Mechelen. [This is the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
 Van Thielen inherited his father's title, as he signed one painting "J. P. van Thielen, Heere van Couwen Berche." See Franz Joseph van Branden, Geschiedenis der antwerpsche Schilderschool, Antwerp, 1883: 1133, and Marie-Louise Hairs, The Flemish Flower Painters in the XVIIth Century, Trans. Eva Grzelak, Brussels, 1985: 265. Moreover, the text identifying the image of Jan van Thielen in De Bie 1661, 345, refers to him as "Heere van Couwen Berche." He generally signed his paintings "I. P. van Thielen," although in a few instances, including NGA 1992.51.4, he simply inscribed his name as "Van Thielen." Occasionally he signed his name "I. P. van Thielen-Rigouldts," incorporating the surname of his mother. For a listing of those paintings where unusual forms of his signature occur, see the biography of Van Thielen in Peter C. Sutton and Marjorie E. Wieseman, The Age of Rubens, Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, Boston, 1993: 521.
 Hairs 1985, 263.
 De Bie 1661, 347-348, records their biographies.
Houbraken, Arnold. De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. 3 vols. in 1. The Hague, 1753 (Reprint: Amsterdam, 1976): 2:52; 3:105.
Rombouts, Philippe Félix, and Theodoor Frans Xavier van Lerius. De Liggeren en andere historische archieven der Antwerpsche Sint Lucasgilde, 2 vols. Antwerp and The Hague, 1864-1876, 2:27, 29, 128, 135 (reprint Amsterdam, 1961).
Edited by Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart 1907-1950, 33(1939):27-28.
Bie, Cornelis de. Het gulden cabinet van de edel vry schilderconst. Edited by Gerard Lemmens. Reprint of Antwerp, 1661/1662. Soest, 1971: 344-345.
Hairs, Marie-Louise. The Flemish Flower Painters in the XVIIth Century. Trans. Eva Grzelak. Brussels, 1985: 263-275, 498-500.
Sutton, Peter C., and Marjorie E. Wieseman, et al. The Age of Rubens. Exh. cat. Museum of Arts, Boston; Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art. Boston, 1993: 521.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2005: 249.