This panel belongs to a group of bust-length classical deities produced by Cornelis van Haarlem in the first two decades of the seventeenth century. The artist’s earlier compositions are marked by twisting, animated nudes with a heavily defined musculature, similar to those found in the works of Hendrick Goltzius and Bartholomäus Spranger. While the artist’s forms became less rigidly muscular in his later career, the almost life-size figures of gods and goddesses are still somewhat sculpted, typically shrouded in billowing drapery, and often adorned with identical earrings of glass spheres suspended from gold hoops, as depicted in Venus and Adonis, a pair that only recently reemerged (sold Christie’s, London, 8 July 2008, lot 12). These idealized gods and goddesses always appear against a dark background, painted on both canvas and panel, and usually signed in monogram and dated.
Prior to its reappearance in 2011, the present panel was known only from a drawn copy by Abraham Delfos executed in 1795, when the work was in the collection of Jan Danser Nijman (fig. 1; Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam).