Petrilli was born in Tivoli, Lazio and studied at the Art Institute of Florence and then the Academy in 1889-90. He worked with Raffaello Romanelli before setting up his own studio at Via Dei Serragli in Florence.
Petrilli, like his contemporaries Caradossi and Frilli, is best known for his romanticised depictions of Renaissance and Neo-Classical themes often employing different coloured marbles, or gilt highlights.
He exhibited a bust of Joan of Arc at the Paris International Exhibition of 1900 and Wrestling Bacchantes at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World's Fair).
Alfonso Panzetta, 'Nuovo Dizionario degli Scultori Italiani Dell 'Ottocento e del Primo Novecento', Adarte 2003, page 690.