Polenghi was born in Milan in 1936. In 1955, he moved to New York, where he attended New York University and graduated with a degree in Economy in 1961. He lived in New York until 1966, then he moved back to Milan. During that period, he carried out in-depth research on Spinoza, which was to have a deep influence on his painting. In 1977, he travelled to India for the first time. In 1981, he decided to remain in India and did so until 1988, when he returned to Italy and met Arturo Schwartz, with whom he shared a deep interest in Spinoza and Oriental philosophy. Their intellectual exchange has continued uninterrupted ever since. 

Francesco Polenghi now lives and works in Milan.