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.