Paggi, although of noble birth, was encouraged to take up art by the artist Luca Cambiaso. On the run from a murder charge in Genoa, he enrolled in Florence’s Academia del Disegno in 1586. Venus and Cupid is probably an early work, influenced by Cambiaso.

In this sensuous work, Venus is shown wearing a jewelled girdle, and the elaborate hairstyle of a Roman matron, familiar from classical portrait busts. Recent cleaning has revealed the jewel-like colouring and the subtle play of light across the intertwined figures.


  • Title: Venus and Cupid
  • Date: before 1581?
  • Physical Dimensions: w642 x h848 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: Perhaps the work sold as by Luca Cambiaso, London, Coxe, Bryan sale, 9 May 1804, lot 53 ('Venus caressing Cupid').
  • Work Nationality: Italian
  • Support: Canvas
  • Provenance: London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: Catalogued by Richter as a late work by Luca Cambiaso, but the composition was engraved as the work of Paggi by C. Galle. DPG248 is presumably an early work painted under Cambiaso's influence. Frabetti records versions in Vienna and at the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa; others are in private collections in Genoa and Rome.
  • Artist: Paggi, Giovanni Battista
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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