Born in Bologna in 1846, Luigi Serra was admitted to the Venturoli College in 1858. From 1863 he completed his training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. His first study trip dates back to 1866, which took him to Florence, where he spent six years specializing in the Tuscan fifteenth century. The subsequent brief Roman parenthesis (1869-1870), during which he made Annibale Bentivoglio a prisoner in the castle of Varano, was followed by his return to Bologna. Representing the Society of Fine Arts artists and students, he participated in the Governing Council of the Bolognese League for the Education of the People, chaired by Giosuè Carducci and Raffaele Belluzzi, to whom he will be linked by deep friendship. Among the projects presented by the League was that of a professional drawing school for workers: the school was opened in 1873 and the teaching was entrusted, among others, to Serra. In the same year the painter was in Vienna with his friends Raffaele Faccioli, Mario de Maria and Giovanni Bedini , to visit the Universal Exposition; the following year, 1874, he went to Turin to meet the Turin artists and the works of contemporary art of the local Civic Museum. Before settling in Rome in 1877, he spent two years in Venice studying the works of the masters of the 15th and 16th centuries. In these years of travel, Serra found inspiration to create The flute player, The kiss not returned, Michelangelo in the bed of his dying servant Urbino, Conciastoaglie, Al Monte di Pietà and Allegory of the Arts for the curtain of the Fabriano theater. The period spent in Rome was also full of important commissions: The entry of the Catholic army into Prague in the apse of the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria and, connected to this work, Le monache al coro and L'organista della Vittoria, Annibale Bentivoglio prisoner in the castle of Varano (1869). In 1880 Serra was again in Bologna to attend the work of the Congress of Italian workers' societies held in the Palazzo dell'Archiginnasio from 31 October to 3 November. The following year he was appointed academic correspondent of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. After a stop in Fabriano at the end of 1880 to perform the allegorical figures to be inserted in the ceiling of the theater, he was back in Rome. The first four years of the second stay in Rome were harbingers of great disappointments: from the competition for the decoration of the yellow room of the Senate, lost despite the great commitment, to the refusal by the clients of the painting The apparition of the Virgin to the SS. Francesco and Bonaventura, later bought by his friend Enrico Guizzardi; from the failure to entrust the construction of the Stations of the Cross for the Turin church of San Gioacchino, to the refusal by the clients of the Portrait of Mrs. Deserti. In 1885 Serra concluded I coronari and in 1886 Irnerio who glossed the ancient laws for the ceiling of the council chamber of the Province of Bologna, which was then based in Palazzo d'Accursio. The Portrait of Mrs. Enrica Merlani and the studies for San Giovanni Nepomuceno date from 1888, a work that remained unfinished due to the artist's premature death. In 1888, Luigi Serra died prematurely at the age of 42. Serra joined his artistic activity as a correspondent for newspapers and magazines. Between 1882 and 1883 he began to collaborate with the magazine Cronaca Byzantine; he also sent articles and contributions to the periodicals Sul Corso, Corriere di Roma, Roman Salotti and Roman Blazons. He wrote about the figurative arts, worldly news, theatrical performances and politics. At the Municipal Library of the Archiginnasio is the documentary nucleus called the Luigi Serra special fund, which includes a part of the artist's personal archive, the letters sent by Serra to his mother and preserved by her, and the materials after Serra's death that belonged to the friend Guizzardi.