He initially studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of Perugia under Silvestro Valeri. Brugnoli and his fellow student at the Academy, Ulisse Ribustini, then moved to Naples to work in the studio with Domenico Morelli. Returning to Perugia, he was mentored in Perugia by Federico Faruffini.
Brugnoli helped fresco the Italian Pavilion at the Parisian exposition of 1878. In 1880 in Rome, he helped fresco the cupola of the Teatro Costanzi (now, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma). He became much in demand as a fresco painter. In Milan, he decorated the grand hall of Villa Marsaglia and the cupola of the Teatro Lirico Internazionale. At the age of twenty, he had joined Garibaldi in his wars for independence. In Perugia, he frescoed the main salon of the Palace Hotel and painted the large canvases on the history of Umbria in the hall of the Banca Commerciale. In 1895 he painted the fresco in the hall of the Commercial Bank of Perugia. Although dismissed by his contemporaries, the paintings were masterful works of art, depicting the historical scenes and subjects such as the Battle of Lake Trasimene and a reception for Umberto I.
Brugnoli also authored two small books. The first was entitled The Tomb of Vittorio Emanuele. The second, entitled New Road was published in Perugia in 1915.
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