Born in Coldrerio near Como, Mola came to Rome as a boy, with his family, and entered the studio of Cavalier d'Arpino. Although he travelled widely, he spent considerable time in Rome throughout his life, and was active there intermittantly from circa 1633. In the 1640s he worked under the direction of Pietro da Cortona on commissions for Cardinal Pamphili at the Quirinale, and in the 1650s at the Palazzo de Valmontone. He was well established by this time and his style reflected the classicizing tendencies of Roman artists, including Nicolas Poussin.
Mola executed a number of character studies of elderly men, the most famous example of which is the Oriental Archer in the Muse du Louvre, Paris. But in its painterly handling and fluent brushwork, the present work compares better with Mola's Homer Playing the Violincello and dictating His Poetry in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Corsini, Rome, as Dr. Erich Schleier has observed (written communication). On comparison with that work and The Expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael in the Capitoline Gallery, Rome, the present picture can be added to the group of paintings executed by Mola when he was again in Rome in the early 1660s.
The attribution to Mola was suggested in a letter dated March 1998 by Dr. Erich Schleier.