An architect's son, Pier Francesco Mola developed his mature style after leaving Rome and traveling in Bologna and Venice between 1633 and 1647. He studied under a former assistant of Annibale Carracci and Domenichino and was profoundly influenced by Guercino's soft modeling. In 1647 Mola moved back to the family residence in Rome, where he painted romantic works in chiaroscuro. In Rome he received public commissions for frescoes and altarpieces, fusing the Roman High Renaissance grandeur of Raphael and Michelangelo with the North Italian color of Titian and Guercino. His most characteristic works were idyllic scenes with biblical figures or saints in luxuriant, dramatic landscapes that combine the golden light and painterly handling of Venetian art with figures inspired by Roman High Renaissance masters. Mola was also a versatile draftsman and a witty caricaturist.
In his last years, Mola's fortunes declined rapidly and his paintings became increasingly dramatic. When a drawn-out lawsuit over payment for a fresco was finally settled against him in 1664, his health and finances were drained. Fellow artists elected him principe(head) of the Accademia di San Luca in 1662, but he received no public commissions and resigned his post due to illness the following year.