Born into a Milanese family of ancient and noble lineage, Carlo Mancini grew up in a liberal cultural climate and mixed with some of the leading figures in Milan’s musical world, regular guests in the family villa at Merate, including Giacomo Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi as well as Arrigo Boito, with whom he formed a close friendship. It was probably the landscape painter Rinaldo Barbiano di Belgioso, an uncle on his mother’s side, who first interested him in painting. Given that the only evidence of his studies under the guidance of Giuseppe Bisi, then holder of the chair in landscape at the Brera Academy, is an end-of-course exam work of the mid-1850s (1857) and that his name appears on no official academic documents, it has recently been suggested that his pictorial apprenticeship took place outside the institution. A trip in Brittany and Normandy led to early contact with English landscape painting and steered Mancini’s artistic interests towards faithful depiction from life but attenuated by late-Romantic overtones in the handling of light. Until he stopped showing work at exhibitions in 1875, he focused on rural subjects, mostly drawn from the countryside in Brianza and from memories of his youthful stay in Normandy, which were favourably reviewed by critics and won him some marks of official recognition. His travels in Scotland and the Far East are documented in a series of sketches in oils and watercolour dating from the second half of the 1870s.