Giovanni Sottocornola was pupil of the painters Raffaele Casnedi and Giuseppe Bertini at the Brera, in the years 1875-1880. There he met his fellow students Gaetano Previati, Emilio Longoni and Giovanni Segantini. While the portraits and still lifes presented at the Brera exhibitions of the following years enjoyed considerable success on the art market, he began to address social themes early in the new decade and experimented with the Divisionist technique in paintings. Later years saw a return to portraiture as well as genre scenes. A participant in Milanese and Venetian exhibitions, he combined teaching and restoration with painting.