Pietro Calvi was born in 1833 in Milan, where he studied at the Milan Academy. He later went on to study under the renowned sculptor Giovanni Seleroni. It was under Seleroni’s tutelage that Calvi developed his outstanding sensitivity and refinement, which became hallmarks of his modelling style.
Calvi relished working in bronze and marble. He often combined the two materials to create visually striking works. Many of his sculptures were exhibited throughout Europe and America, most notably at London’s Royal Academy between 1872 and 1883. Highlights of his exhibitions at the Royal Academy included Selika and Othello in 1872, Lucifer in 1879, and Ariadne and Lo Zio Tom (Uncle Tom) in 1880. Three years later (the year before his death), he presented a stirring minstrel curiously entitled Oh Goodness Gracious Me!.