The very young Attilio Simonetti, already initiated into the paternal profession of goldsmith, was noticed by the Perugian painter Nicola Ortis who, in addition to providing him with the first rudiments in the art of drawing, encouraged him to undertake the profession of painter and to enroll at the Academy of San Luca in Rome. Hence the attendance of the informal “Giggi Academy” located in via Margutta and his first production of watercolors dedicated to portraying Roman folk costumes, readily absorbed by the local market.
The meeting with Mariano Fortuny must be traced back to the earliest days of studying at the Giggi Academy. In 1864 he sent Pompeian Mimma or Pompeian Actress to the Brera Fine Arts Exhibition where she obtained the prestigious purchase from the Ministry of Education for 580 lire. Encouraged by these early affirmations, and using at the same time oil, watercolor, drawing and the technique of engraving, Attilio Simonetti devoted himself in the late 1960s to a series of genre works committed to portraying tranche de vie del Roman people often accompanied by an amused anecdotal accent.
To this production he entrusted his Parisian debut at the Salon of 1867 where, presenting himself as a pupil of Fortuny who had signed a prestigious contract with Goupil the year before, he appeared with Une porte de rue, à Rome and Un intérieur de cuisine dans Trastevere , in Rome. Relying on a neo-Flemish taste very popular in the Paris of the time, which appreciated the minutiae derived from the seventeenth-century Dutch masters from Pieter De Hooch to Jan Steen, Simonetti portrays the interior of a Trastevere kitchen studded with a series of captivating details such as multicolored fabrics of the commoners, the hand-beaten branches well arranged on the sideboard, the 16th century majolica bottle in full view on the elegant 17th century desk.
His entrepreneurial ability, like the fame he achieved, allowed Simonetti to establish himself as one of the best known and most sought-after Italian masters abroad.