Crespi learned his trade in the workshops of Canuti and then Cignani in Bologna, where he was born in 1675. The study of the early 17th-century painting of the Emilia region and Mattia Preti also had an important impact on his style. It was with a view to completing his artistic training that he made various journeys in Italy to cities such as Parma, Urbino and Venice. This enabled him to gain first-hand acquaintance with the works of Correggio and Federico Barocci as well as the Venetian handling of colour, which was to have a particular influence on his development. A highly versatile painter, he ranged from religious works to genre painting and portraits, creating original works that drew effectively on some elements of popular naturalism. He obtained a number of prestigious commissions from patrons such as Prince Eugene of Savoy, Ferdinando de’ Medici, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni and Pope Clemente XI. He received a knighthood from Benedict XIV in 1740. He was suddenly struck by a form of blindness and his last works were produced with the assistance of his son Luigi. He died in 1747.