Born on 21 July 1615 in Naples where he studied under his uncle, Domenico Greco, his brother-in-law, Francesco Francanzano (a follower of Ribera), and the Neapolitan battle-painter, Aniello Falcone. In 1635 he went to Rome where he also developed literary interests. In Florence, between 1640 and 1649, he formed a literary society, the percossi, and met the scholar G. B. Ricciardi (much of their lively correspondence survives).
He returned in 1649 to Rome, where he died on 15 March 1673. An original figure, he was known, despite his self confessed stoicism, for his excitable and arrogant temper; he refused invitations to the Courts of Spain (1652) and France (1665).