He belonged to the generation of Carracci-inspired or trained painters that included Giovanni Andrea Donducci (Mastelletta); Alessandro Tiarini, Lucio Massari, Leonello Spada and Lorenzo Garbieri. He was born in Sassuolo, near Modena, and was able to obtain a three-year stipend to apprentice with Bernardino Baldi and Annibale Carracci.  In the autumn of 1609, he sojourned in Rome for a year to work under Guido Reni, and is known to have worked in Venice from 1612-1613. He became one of Ludovico Carracci's primary assistants, and upon Ludovico's death in 1619 became Caposindaco of the Accademia degli Incamminati.
His career as a painter was cut short by a set of misfortunes; these included a 1623 fall from a church scaffold and, in 1630, the death of his wife and children from the plague. The 1911 Britannica (where he is incorrectly called Jacopo Cavendone) claims his wife was accused of witchcraft. He lived until 1660, and died in poverty.
His principal works are the Adoration of the Magi, the Four Doctors, Last Supper; and his masterpiece, the large altar painting in the Pinacoteca di Bologna, Virgin and Child in Glory with San Petronio and Saint Alo (1614). His paintings have a traditional Ludovico Carracci-inspired structure, with a Madonna and her wafting robes hovering above donors, with an unusually rich Titianesque coloring for an Emilian painter. Among his pupils were Giovanni Andrea Sirani, Giovanni Battista Cavazza, Ottavio Corradi, and Flaminio Torre.