He studied drawing and painting respectively with Gaspar Antonio Bandini and Porcelli. He went to Rome in 1781, he specialized in the study of Batoni. In the Eternal City he met Canova to whom he was bound by friendship.
Although neoclassical, has a psychological wisdom, truth, and a variety of attitudes that make him regarded as one of the founders of the modern school nineteenth century. At the same time he has the grace of the eighteenth century, learned from Batoni. He painted mythological paintings, religious and portraits: in these he excelled. In 1797, proclaimed the Republic in Rome, he left it to return to his Piacenza. In 1810 he succeeded to the presidency Canova in the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.
In 1827, while he painted the altarpiece “The Immaculate Conception” which is in Naples in the church of San Francesco da Paola, he suffered a first stroke. His recovery at best, he made the painting and returned to his hometown, where he gave way to a new insult of evil. His works: “The Deposition of Mary at the Sepulchre,” the most perfect made by him; “The Apostles before the empty tomb of It,” in the cathedral of Piacenza; “Portrait of Canova”, Carrara Academy in Bergamo; “the Marys at the Tomb, “” weeping Woman “, the Ambrosiana in Milan,” The artist in Florence, “” The beautiful Greek surprise by Alcibiades in the white bed “,” The Rape of Palladio “,” Marriage of Sara “;” Rape of Antigorze “” the Torment “to St. John of Piacenza;” the departure of Mary Stuart from Paris, “” Portrait of Count Alfonso Scotti “, work that earned him much praise.