Giulio Cesare was born into a family of artists in Bologna in 1574 as the son (and pupil) of Ercole the Elder and brother of Camillo and Carlo Antonio. The family moved to Milan in 1585, not least because the important Milanese intellectual and collector Pirro Visconti appreciated their artistic gifts and summoned them to work for him. Giulio Cesare started out in the fields of sculpture and stucco mouldings, and there is documentation of his employment on the statuary of Milan Cathedral between 1590 and 1599. It was not until 1601 that his official career as a painter began during the construction of Santa Maria presso San Celso, where he and Cerano were commissioned to produce fresco and stucco decorations for the side chapels. A crucial part was played in his artistic training by numerous journeys to cities such as Parma, where he saw the work of Correggio and Parmigianino, Genoa, where he worked for the Doria family and was exposed to the influence of Rubens, and Turin, where he received various commissions from the ducal court. He died at the age of just 51 in Milan on 14 November 1625.