Sirani was born and lived in Bologna, a city that was known for its liberal views of women and for its women artists. A painter, and a printmaker, Sirani was able to support her parents and siblings when her artist father became incapacitated.
People would visit her studio to watch, because she painted work so quickly. Her patrons included Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici. When she died at the age of 27, an elaborate funeral was held that included poetry and orations. Her legacy included the professional women artists who were her students, including two of her sisters., and the academy that she established.