His father, Felice Lagorio (1781-1857) was a Genoese merchant serving as Vice-Consul for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. From 1839 to 1840, he received his first artistic training in the studios of Ivan Aivazovsky. In 1842, with the support of Alexander Kaznacheyev, the Governor of Taurida, he was able to enroll at the Imperial Academy of Arts. Later, he was able to obtain financial assistance from the Duke of Leuchtenberg, the Academys new President. Among his teachers there were Alexander Sauerweid, Maxim Vorobiev and Bogdan Willewalde.
In 1850, he received the title of "Artist" for his painting "View of Lahti" and, two years later, became a Russian citizen. He was also awarded a pension to study abroad, visiting Paris first (1853), then Rome, where he stayed until 1859, the last two years at his own expense.