A native of Toulon, Volaire moved to Italy in 1764, settling first in Rome and then definitively in Naples in 1769. He painted numerous views of the eruption of Vesuvius, a scene that proved particularly popular for artists throughout the late eighteenth-century including most notably, besides Volaire, Joseph Wright of Derby. This popularity was perhaps a result of the avid interest in the archaeological sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum, first excavated in the 1740s. In addition, the expansion of scientific curiosity and knowledge in the Age of Enlightenment led to a considerable degree of fascination with volcanoes, particularly in France and England: for example, in Edmund Burke's concept of the sublime, William Hamilton's Observations on Mount Vesuvius of 1772, and the work of the geologist, Whitehurst. Volaire himself was an eye-witness of two eruptions, in 1771 and 1774, and Vesuvius erupting as seen from the Atrio del Cavallo with the Bay of Naples beyond is his best known composition.