Born to a Mantuan gentleman, he was the father of a family of Cremonese painters. In that town, he apprenticed with Giovanni Battista Trotti (known as il Malosso). Afterwards he moved to Milan, where frescoe church ceilings, and painted altarpieces and still lifes.
One of his few documented still lifes depict a bowl of peaches, and recalls the near-contemporary paintings of fruit bowls in Milan, including the 1594-98 painting in the Ambrosiana by Caravaggio and similarly themed paintings by Fede Galizia. His son, Carlo Francesco Nuvolone, also a prominent in painter in Lombardy. Panfilo’s younger son Giuseppe Nuvolone also a painter. Giuseppe’s son Carlo was a mediocre quadratura specialist active mainly around Cremona.