Pupil of his father Salvatore in 1853 he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples. The first tests demonstrate the adherence to the code smargiassiana and then resented both by Filippo Palizzi examples of realistic Tuscany. In 1865 he decided to move to Rome, where he developed a powerful and realistic language without concessions to the art of genre. Works are marked by his commitment and resources of the poor people’s encouragement to vice.
Between 1869 and 1870 he realized Piazza San Marco (Rome, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna), a painting which exemplifies the strong realist structure to spots of the master. In 1870 he made the journey to Paris, where he met Courbet, and in 1871 built the grandiose painting The Charge of the riflemen to the walls of Rome (Naples, Museo di Capodimonte). Around 1890 he resided in Massawa to fulfill the vast canvas The Battle of Dogali (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna).