Elizabeth Sirani was born at Bologna in 1638. She early exhibited the most extraordinary talent for painting, which was perfectly cultivated by her father, Gio. Andrea Sirani, an excellent disciple and imitator of Guido. She attached herself to an imitation of the best style of Guido, which unites great relief with the most captivating amenity. Her first public work appeared in 1655, when she was seventeen years of age. It is almost incredible that in a short life of not more than twenty-six or twenty-seven years, she could have executed the long list of works enumerated by Malvasia, copied from a register kept by herself, amounting to upwards of one hundred and fifty pictures and portraits; and our astonishment is increased, when we are told by the same author, that many of them are pictures and altar-pieces of large size, and finished with a care that excludes all appearance of negligence and haste. There are quite a number of her works in the churches of Bologna. Lanzi also speaks of her in terms of high commendation, and says, that "in her smaller works, painted by commission, she still improved herself, as may be seen by her numerous pictures of Madonnas, Magdalens, saints, and the infant Saviour, found in the Zampieri, Zambeccari, and Caprara palaces at Bologna, and in the Corsini and Bolognetti collections at Rome." She received many commissions from many of the sovereigns and most distinguished persons of Europe. She had two sisters, Anna and Barbara, whom, according to Crespi, she instructed in the art, and who possessed considerable talent. Her fame was so great, that after her death not only the works of her sisters, but many of those of her father, were attributed to her. Lanzi says, "She is nearly the sole individual of the family whose name occurs in collections out of Bologna." She also executed some spirited etchings mostly from her own designs.