Giulio Rospigliosi, who took the name Clemens IX, was Pope for only two and a half years, from June 1667 to December 1669. He was an accomplished man of letters, who wrote poetry, dramas and libretti, as well as what may be the first comic opera. He was a patron of Nicolas Poussin, commissioning A Dance to the Music of Time from him and dictating its iconography.
Gavin Hamilton had already studied in Rome in the 1740s. After a short stay in London, he returned there for good in 1756. In the 1770s, he undertook many excavations as an art dealer and archaeologist. When he painted this life-size Venus giving Helen to Paris as his wife, now held by the Palazzo Braschi, in 1782-84, he had already spent about thirty years in Rome.