Jean-Pierre Pequignot first studied with Johann Melchior Wyrsch, the founder of the painting and sculpture academy at Besançon, between 1775 and 1780. He then went to Paris where he worked in the studio of Claude-Joseph Vernet and was also accepted in the studio of Jacques-Louis David. He later went to Rome where he met Anne-Louis Girodet (1767-1824), the winner of the Grand Prix de Rome in 1789, who arrived there in May 1790. Both artists came from the Franche-Comté and became close friends. Girodet's growing interest in landscape painting might have been influenced by Pequignot. In 1791 the two fled from the turmoils of the Revolution and the resulting persecution of French citizens to Naples where they worked together in the surrounding countryside. They collaborated to the extent that Pequignot painted the landscape in Girodet's Sleep of Endymion of 1791, a work that met with great success at the salon the following years (Louvre, Paris). After Girodet left for Paris in 1794, Pequignot remained in Naples until his death in 1807.
Pequignot's few surviving works suggest that he was a follower of Valenciennes who promoted the en plein air study as the basis for sophisticated compositions executed in his studio (see, for example, the pair of paintings sold at Christie's, London, 8 December 2004, lot 54, /P100,000=$195,000). The present painting is a masterful example of the artist's composit heroic landscapes which form a part of a tradition going back to Poussin and Claude.