Bourdon trained as a painter in Paris and spent some time as a soldier before making a trip to Rome in 1634, where he was influenced by Pieter van Laer and his followers (the 'Bamboccianti'). In 1637 he returned to Paris via Venice. He was a founder member of the French Académie in 1648 and worked at the court of Queen Christina in Sweden (1652-4) and in Montpellier (1656-7), before settling again in Paris. Bourdon's work is stylistically diverse; in the 1640s he came under the influence of Poussin, and in addition to painting genre and history subjects, he was also a talented portrait artist. "A Brawl in a Guard-room" is an example of the genre subjects painted by Bourdon in the manner of Van Laer.