Bartolozzi was born in Florence. He was originally destined to follow the profession of his father, a gold- and silver-smith, but he manifested so much skill and taste in designing that he was placed under the supervision of two Florentine artists, including Ignazio Hugford and Giovanni Domenico Ferretti who instructed him in painting. After devoting three years to that art, he went to Venice and studied engraving. He particularly admired the work of Joseph Wagner.
He lived in London for nearly forty years. He produced an enormous number of engravings, including Clytie after Annibale Carracci, and of the Virgin and Child, after Carlo Dolci. A large proportion of them are from the works of Cipriani and Angelica Kauffman. Bartolozzi also contributed a number of plates to Boydell‘s Shakespeare Gallery. He also drew sketches of his own in red chalk. Soon after arriving in London, he was appointed “Engraver to the King” with a salary of £300 a year. He was elected a founding member of the Royal Academy in 1768, and in 1802 became the founding President of the short-lived Society of Engravers.
In 1802, Bartolozzi accepted the post of director of the National Academy of Lisbon, the city where he died.