Vleughels was Franco-Flemish and at the center of a community of Flemish artists in Paris in the early decades of the eighteenth century that included Antoine Watteau. Although he was a generation younger than the master of Valenciennes, Vleughels became an academician only a year before Watteau and the two men were friends: they shared a house in 1718-1719 and Vleughels posed for Watteau on several occasions (notably for the dancing gallant in the Fêtes Vénitiennes in Edinburgh). He achieved great success in the Academy, rising to Director of the Académie de France in Rome in 1724, the year after the present painting was made. He lived in Rome for the rest of his life, marrying Panini's daughter and becoming esteemed mentor to Boucher, Natoire, Subleyras, Carle Vanloo and many of the best French painters of the era.
Vleughels was inspired by the warm, bright coloring, vibrant brushwork and sensual subject matter of Veronese and Rubens and translated their pictorial language into pictures of very small scale, often executed on copper or, as here, wooden panel. In the present picture, he was evidently looking to Venetian prototypes in the works of Veronese, Titian and Tintoretto, but he has reduced their grand compositions to cabinet size and emphasized rich and lively detail, spritely coloring and good humor over eroticism. Gabriel de Saint-Aubin made marginal illustrations of this painting and its pendant (a lost Rape of Europa that was deeply indebted to Veronese's masterpiece in Palazzo Ducale, Venice) in a copy of the Fitz James sale catalogue of 1778 in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (Cabinet des Estampes, Yd 128 Res.), as Patrice Marandel first noted. Characteristically, Saint-Aubin also corrected the title given to the painting in the catalogue: Cupid is not actually sleeping - indeed, his eyes are open - rather, he is feeling unwell ('malade' according to Saint-Aubin), and his mother and the Graces endeavor to entertain and cheer him up.