Sirani was born in Bologna in 1638. She was trained by her father, the painter Giovanni Andrea Sirani of the School of Bologna, who also trained Ludovico Carracci. By age 17 she was a full-fledged engraver and painter and had completed over ninety works. By the time she died at the young age of 27, she had added at least eighty more to her repertoire. Besides being an independent painter by the age of 19, Elisabetta Sirani also ran her family's workshop. When her father became incapacitated by gout, she was burdened with having to support her parents, her siblings and herself, entirely through her art. The stress created by such heavy responsibilities may have been the cause of her early death. It is estimated that in all she produced some 200 paintings, drawings, and etchings. She painted themes such as the Virgin and Child, self-portraits, and many more. Elisabetta Sirani used dramatic light and great movement in her work, which classified it in the Baroque style. She painted many of her larger scale and heavy-themed works publicly and in front of large (and adoring) crowds of on-lookers. Sirani's portraits, mythological subjects, and especially her images of the Holy Family and the Virgin and Child, gained international fame.