Barbara was born in Milan on 1550 and she moved to Colorno after she married Giberto Sanvitale, Duke of Sala Baganza. She was famous for her beauty and her great culture and in the Court of Colorno, an unwelcome competitor to the Parma Court, she gathered a large number of the humanists and poets of the time and had a relationship with the Gonzaga Family of Mantua and the Este Family of Ferrara.

Because for the close relationship with the Gonzagas and on the basis of a long list of suspects, followed a brutal trial worked up by Ranuccio Farnese, Duke of Parma, who condemned the marquise to death and executed on scaffold in 1612. With Barbara Sanseverino the Ducal Palace of Colorno became enriched by a marvelous Italian Garden with a geometric design with flowerbeds, fountains, paths and a network of canals, and was celebrated by the greatest poets of the time. She was also a fine art collector: works by Tiziano, Gerolamo Mazzola Bedoli, Giulio Romano, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, Parmigianino and an extraordinary collection of antique cameos which enriched the Palace, where confiscated by the Farnese after her death , most of them nowadays at the Museum of Capodimonte in Naples.