Mola was born in Canton Ticino in Switzerland, but travelled to Rome as a boy when his father was appointed architect to the Camera Apostolica. A painter and talented draughtsman, his most characteristic works are small scale cabinet and gallery pictures intended for private collectors, with themes drawn from the Bible, classical mythology and modern poets such as Torquato Tasso. Set in landscapes inspired by Venetian and Emilian art, these works typically have an intensely poetic, romantic mood. Mola was a slow starter, for after initial training in his father’s workshop, he spent two long spells in northern Italy (1633-40 and 1641-47), including two years in the 1640s in the studio of Francesco Albani in Bologna. Later in his career he received some more ambitious commissions in Rome for altarpieces and fresco decorations, notably the huge Joseph greeting his Brethren in the Quirinal Palace. His mature works blend stylistic influences from north Italian art – Titian, Guercino and Albani – with recent developments in Rome by the likes of Pietro da Cortona, Nicolas Poussin and Pietro Testa.