Luigi Crosio was born in Acqui Terme, a beautiful spa town east of Turin. He studied art at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arte in the 1850s, which is still a highly acclaimed art school in Turin. A fine draftsman and painter, Crosio's compositions were much sought after for lithographic reproduction. Emphasizing the commercial strength of his works, when he was not working under commission, he painted scenes that captured the public's interest and imagination. Crosio specialized in genre pictures, painting romantic 17th Century scenes, portraits of period characters, and Pompeian scenes. In these he would reconstruct events of ancient Pompeii before its destruction by Vesuvius.
Crosio shared a common Italian affinity for opera, and in many of his paintings he reproduced scenes from popular operas. He would have attended operas in Turin's famed house, the Teatro Reggio, burned and rebuilt in the 20th Century. Teatro Reggio premiered Puccini's Manon Lescaut (1893) and La Bohème (1896). The local art and culture which surrounded Crosio clearly informed his paintings. Although The Beautiful Slave considers an Orientalist subject, Crosio has curiously inserted classical Roman architecture in the foreground of his painting, resembling that of the Royal Opera House in Turin, and has offered a snapshot of a narrative, mimicking the stories he would have heard sung in the opera house.
Although little is known about the artist's life, it is reported that Crosio's four daughters served as models for almost all of their father's paintings. The young 'slave' sitting under the arcade is likely to be one of artist's daughters.