A pupil of Francesco Hayez at the Brera Academy in Milan as from 1855, Carcano won the Canonica Prize with a work on a historical subject in 1862, while experimenting in the same period with painting from life. His interest in themes connected with reality is confirmed in subsequent works presenting scenes of an immediacy that reflects the contemporary developments in the field of the photography. One example is Break During Work on the Exhibition of 1881 (Milan, Galleria d’Arte Moderna), presented at the Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti di Milano in 1881. A leading figure in the school of Lombard Naturalism, he combined scenes of everyday life with numerous landscapes, featuring the surroundings of Lake Maggiore and the Mottarone as from the 1870s and the mountain peaks on the border with Switzerland at the end of the century. It was in the same period that he took up Symbolism, winning the Prince Umberto Prize at the Milan Triennale of 1897.