Brescianino probably began his training with Girolamo del Pacchia, but is first documented at Siena in 1507 working with Battista di Fruosino in the Compagnia di San Gerolamo. Immediately after, in Florence, he came under the influence of Raphael, Fra Bartolommeo and Leonardo da Vinci. Apart from a short visit to Rome (circa 1516) to assist Baldassare Peruzzi with the decoration of the Villa Farnesina, he spent most of his time in Siena, although frequent contact with Florence is suggested by the influence of Andrea del Sarto on his painting after circa 1515. In his most substantial surviving work, The Coronation of the Virgin (circa 1520) in the Church of Santi Pietro e Paolo, Siena, colours and compositional ideas from del Sarto are combined with the local styles of Domenico Beccafumi and Girolamo del Pacchia.
The style of the present picture is similar to that in the few other known secular subjects by the artist, also a Venus with putti, in the Galleria Borghese, Rome (inv. no. 324), which was attributed to Andrea del Sarto until Platner attributed it in 1842 to Beccafumi. Frizzoni was the first to recognise it as by Brescianino, dating it to late in the artist's career, and it seems likely that the present picture dates from the same time (G. Frizzoni, The Burlington Magazine, XX, 1911, p. 267; and P. della Pergola, Galleria Borghese: I Dipinti, Rome, 1959, no. 17, illustrated).
The composition bears an obvious similarity to the slightly smaller Venus of the same format by Beccafumi in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, which measures 57 by 126 cm. (P. Torriti, Beccafumi, Milan, 1988, no. P29). At the time of its discovery in 1961, the Birmingham panel was thought to be from a cassone, but more recently it has been suggested that it was the head of a bed of a type widely used in the late Renaissance and, more specifically, that it formed with other panels of Famous Women (London, National Gallery and Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphili, Torriti, nos. 30a, b and c) part of a complex for a bedroom painted for Francesco Petrucci, in circa 1519 (see ibid., p. 94). The present panel, which is more overtly erotic, may well have been intended as the headboard of a bed and probably postdates the Birmingham picture.
The subject of the picture is not uncommon in Italian sixteenth-century art and shows Sacred Love standing at a distance with a processional staff, pointing admonishingly to Venus and Cupid blinded by passionate love.