Pinelli was one of Ottocento Italy’s most popular draftsmen and illustrators. Living and working primarily in Rome, he studied at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome and at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna. Pinelli was strongly influenced by Felice Giani's free and abstract figural style, as well as the landscapes of the German painter Franz Kaiserman and the foreign veduta painters of the monuments and ruins of Rome. He specialized in depictions of popular scenes, folklore and rustic tradition. A prolific etcher, Pinelli in his lifetime produced the volume of etchings, La Raccolta di Cinquanta Costumi Pittoreschi, and a visual popular history of the city, L’istoria Romana, based on Charles Rollin’s Histoire Romaine. In addition, he also illustrated editions of several classic texts.