Pierre-Jacques Volaire was born to a well-known family of painters in Toulon, France in 1729. His father was Toulon's official painter for many years. Volaire learned and honed his skill working as an assistant to artist Joseph Vernet for eight years, helping him paint French naval ports. He worked extensively throughout Italy in cities like Rome and Naples during his career. He witnessed the 1771 eruption of Mount Vesuvius which had a tremendous effect on Volaire's career. Volaire switched focus to painting nightscapes with dramatic displays of light through fire and eruption. His paintings inspired by the Mount Vesuvius eruption were his most renowned. Volaire's work was considered sensational during his time. He passed away in Naples in 1799.