Born on 29 September 1804 in the alpine village of Montegrino Valtravaglia, near Luino (Varese, then in the province of Como). At the age of eleven, due to his precocious genius, Piccio (small) enters the Carrara Academy of Bergamo directed by Giuseppe Diotti, where he will finish his studies in 1820 obtaining the first prize at the school of the nude. He stayed in Cremona in 1823, touching Brescia in 1829; he visits Rome several times, first in 1831, stopping on his return to Parma to study the painting of Correggio and Parmigianino, then in 1845, passing through Florence and Civitavecchia with his friend Giacomo Trécourt, again in 1847 or 1848 and certainly in 1855, even going on foot with the young Federico Faruffini up to Naples and Gaeta. In the early essay on the Education of the Virgin for the parish church of Almenno San Bartolomeo (1826), critics already discern the qualities of a masterful painting: "In portraits, the least of the merits is a full resemblance. Everyone has a soul, and a life, and the gaze and the word seem to come to us. Above the others, the greatest boast is obtained, in which certainly nothing comes to seek better. This is a work older than its age, and of which any skilled artist could boast "(Giornale di Bergamo, 14 September 1826). After having taken up residence and study in Cremona at Palazzo Manna (1832), in 1836 he settled in Milan, where he stayed and worked in via San Primo n. 776 A (later no. 4). together with other artists, including Pompeo Marchesi, professor at the Brera Academy. In 1838 he participated for the first time in the Braindense exhibition with three portraits, a self-portrait, a praying Madonna and the large canvas of the Aminta. At the same time, until 1851, he participated in the annual exhibitions of the Carrara Academy of Bergamo presenting the portraits that he very quickly made during his stays in the Cremona area (at the Farina house) and in the Bergamo area (at the Marini, Tasca, Moretti and Carminati houses) . In 1845, passing through Lugano, he reached Paris on foot with Giacomo Trécourt and here he was recommended to Gaetano Donizetti by Pompeo Marchesi. In 1857 he moved his studio to the Santo Spirito district 1324 A (later no. 9), which he would leave only in 1863 to go back to the French capital. Specializing in portraits of cultured and wealthy clients, Giovanni Carnovali also dedicates himself to a long series of religious subjects (from the gracious praying Virgins or contemplating completed since the Thirties, to the Holy Families, to the Flight into Egypt, to the great Madonna of the Rosary of 1851 for the parish of Adrara San Martino, in the Agar of 1863, considered his masterpiece for composition, brightness and the dynamic and summary pictorial ductus, with fused and uncertain outlines), legendary (from mythological and Ovidian subjects to those inspired by Ariosto and al Tasso). A fervent draftsman (about a thousand sheets only at the Carrara Academy in Bergamo), he loved history, poetry and above all he was a friend and admirer of musical celebrities such as the bass Ignazio Marini (he fell in love with his sister Margherita who unfortunately died prematurely), the soprano Maria Malibran , the compatriot composer Gaetano Donizetti and others. He drowned in the Po near Cremona on 5 July 1873; the body is transported with a solemn ceremony to the chapel of his friend, architect and engineer Francesco Bertarelli in the Cremona cemetery. His works are kept in many public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome (Biblical scene and Portrait of a man in the act of writing, around 1840-1843), the Uffizi Gallery ( Self-portrait, 1830), the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery of Palazzo Pitti in Florence (Portrait of Margherita Moroni), the Civic Museums of Pesaro in Palazzo Mazzolari Mosca (Church interior with figures, 1865), the Ala Ponzone Civic Museum of Cremona (Self-portrait, Portrait of Mrs. Guelphs and some drawings), the Civic Museums of Vicenza (Holy Family with Child Saint John the Baptist, 1840), the Modern Art Gallery of Milan (Self-portrait, 1832, Portrait of the singer Ignazio Marini , 1838, Portrait of the cavalier Filippo Guenzati, 1841, Portrait of the painter Giuseppe Diotti, 1850, Landscape with large trees, 1850, Davide calms Saul with song, 1855, The three in the house of Abraham, 1855, Rebecca at the well, 1860, Bacchus and Arianna danzanti, 1861 , Spring, 1861, Hagar in the desert, 1862, Immaculate conception, 1865, Holy family, 1865, Portrait of Benedetta Carminati Chisoli, 1867, Bather, 1869, Male portrait (Giovanni Treccani?), 1870), the Cabinet of drawings by Sforzesco Castle in Milan (several sheets), the Ambrosiana Picture Gallery in Milan (Female portrait, Flora), the Carrara Academy Picture Gallery in Bergamo (Portrait of Count Carlo Marenzi, 1826, Portrait of Count Guglielmo Lochis, 1835, Self-portrait, 1846 -1850, Portrait of Giacomo Trécourt, 1847-1848, Portrait of Pietro Ghidini, 1848, Madonna, 1860, Portrait of Elena Marenzi, 1866, Portrait of Gigia Riccardi, 1866, Young woman with flowers (La Flora), 1868), the Civic Museums of Pavia (Arianna abandoned, about 1845-1850, Flight into Egypt, 1849, Portrait of a man, 1845 - circa 1850, Judgment of Paris, before 1853), the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in Piacenza (Portrait of Dr. Anselmi 1863, Landscape in Brembate Sotto, circa 1863-1864), the Cesarini Picture Gallery in Fossombrone (Portrait of his uncle , 1850), the Attilio Moroni Municipal Art Gallery in Porto Recanati (Figure of a naked woman in a wood, 1804) and the art collection of the Cariplo Foundation at the Gallerie d’Italia in Milan (Portrait of Pietro Ronzoni, 1825) .