Born into a family of Roman sculptors, Sartorio attended briefly the Accademia di San Luca and began to paint under Fortuny's influence. Later, as a student in Paris, he studied under Gerome. Sartorio also came into contact with the work of Gustave Moreau, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the other Pre-Raphaelities. In 1882 he painted one of his most important works, Malaria, which was partially influenced by the style of his friend Michetti. In 1883 he began to frequent the literary circles of Rome, he also developed a friendship with Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the course of his frequent trips to Paris, London and Weimar, Sartorio acquired a wide knowledge of contemporary European art; these influences encouraged his inclination toward a suggestive fin de siècle style. During the last decade of the century, Sartorio's contact with the Symbolists increased. In 1904 he was one of the founders of the Gruppo dei XXV della Campagna Romana. Sartorio taught at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and fought in the First World War. He also worked as a director on a few films.