He was born to a senatorial family in Genoa, and himself served twice as a Senator. Educated in the humanities, he also dabbled in painting, studying under Giulio Benso and Pellegro Piola. He confessed being attracted to the styles of Sinibaldo Scorza and Goffredo Waals. His friendship with Benso, and the popularity of Vasari's biographies, led Soprani to collect the information about Ligurian painters, sculptors, and architects. His first synthesis was complete by about 1657, but he continued to revise the manuscript. A second volume was added by Carlo Giuseppe Ratti.
He also published books on the writers of Liguria and select biographies.
- Delle vite de' Pittori, scultori ed Architetti Genovesi
- Li Scrittori della Liguria, e particolarmente della maritima (1667)
- Vita della Venerabile Suor Tomasa Fiesca
- Trattato delle Antiche medaglie
- Vite della Veneatile Donna Anna Soprani
- Studi su Raffaele Soprani, Artibus et Historiae, Volume 13, Number 26, (1992), article by Jan K Ostrowski, page 177.
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