Born a serf of the man of the Princess Galitzine, and when it is released it into the wild, ten years of age he entered among the students of the Imperial Academy of arts. Here his main mentor was Dmitry Grigoryevich Levitsky.
At the end of the academic year, in 1870, he received a small gold medal for the painting "Vladimir and Rogneda" and for the further improvement left at the Academy retired.
In 1772, was awarded a large gold medal and the following year sent at public expense abroad.
In Rome he worked under the leadership of P. battoni and Natuar.
In 1778 appointed recognized in academics for the painting: "mercury and Argus" (náchod. at the Museum imp. Alexander III) and "Daedalus binds the wings of Icarus" (in the Museum of the Acad. hood.).
In 1782, for the painting: "Venus and Adonis" (in the Museum Acad.), he received the degree of academician.
Even before, in 1780, he began teaching at the Academy historical painting.
In 1785, raised to the rank of associate Professor.
Is this painter, in the few remaining after the works, showed great talent, and if death has not stopped his activities too early, it could take a very prominent place in the history of Russian art, as a follower of the eclectic direction, which said Russian painting by A. Losenko.
The castle of Princess E. D. Golitsyna, early showed an inclination for drawing, was not able to do art. Only after the death of his owner, P. I. Sokolov was released from serfdom and enrolled in the Academy.
Practicing according to the class of historical painting and feeling the influence of such famous artists as D. G. Levitsky and A. P. Losenko, Sokolov excelled in composition and in 1770 received a small gold medal for painting on the topic "on hold Vladimir suffered from Rogneda him sleepy and at that hour awakened stab."
In 1772 the artist received a gold medal for the program "Cyril, a Greek philosopher, in the exposition of different faiths shows Prince Vladimir the veil with the image of the last judgment".
Awarded for the success of a pensioner's trip to Italy, Sokolov was doing in Rome, "under the supervision of G. Batoni and Natuar drawing from nature" and performed songs, made sketches and copies of paintings by Western European masters. As a historical painter, he was, consistent with the requirements of classicism, stayed mostly in the scenes from ancient mythology.
In 1774, Sokolov began working on large canvases "mercury and Argus". More than two years, he created his composition by notifying OH that "is difficult the first time proizvesti roofing a large proportion of the picture", which requires a lot of studies and makes them "happy position of figures".
After finishing this work, Sokolov in 1776 began the following historical painting, "Daedalus and Icarus", which was completed in 1777 To 1782 applies another significant of his work - "Venus and Adonis".
Proved itself as a professional master, author of large historical paintings, "prelestnaya" of the Academy, the falcons nevertheless have not escaped some sketchy and coldness of his compositions. However, this did not apply to the paintings of the artist who executed easily and freely, and later engraved Nabholz I. X. and E. I. Kokoshkin for publication "Collection of institutions and instructions concerning upbringing in Russia both sexes noble and petty-bourgeois youth, the other in favor of the company of establishing-mi" (St. Petersburg, 1789-91).
In 1783 the artist executed two drawings depicting the monument to Peter I by E. M. Falconet, intending them to be played in the engraving. From 1785 to the end of his life, Sokolov was in charge of "batalicheskih class" OH, and "taught the students draw with colored pencils and painting with watercolors".