Sorbi studied at the Florentine Accademia di Belle Arti under Antonio Ciseri. The beginnings of his career are marked by a historical academicism that winks to the audience but attracts a bevy of criticism especially by those who are opposed to the neo-classical and romantic pictorial tradition, as the Macchiaioli. He then changed the nature of his paintings, making them more relevant to reality, although he continued to prefer historical settings. He also painted landscapes that show strong links with the compositions by the Macchiaioli. Sorbi's career was enriched by the meeting with the French merchant Eugene Goupil, with whom he signed in 1872 an exclusive agreement with a duration of seven years, for a monthly payment of 1,000 francs. Since then other doors of the international market opened to Sorbi, who had contacts with German dealers as Heinemann and Schulte and with the English dealer Tooth. In 1892 he became academician at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.