Cornelis is a major figure in the history of Dutch painting, who participated in the reform of Dutch art in the 1580s and 1590s, first to a model of the mannerist style that had been established in central Italy, then to a more refined, sensual, less muscular, and softer classicism. A founder of the so-called Haarlem Academy, his art emphasized a careful study of nature, including the nude, and aided by the study of classical sculptures and Italian prints.
The Hesperides, according to Greek myth, were three nymphs who tended a blissful garden in the far corner of the world, near the Atlas Mountains. By Roman times, the garden of the Hesperides had become a poetic convention for a Paradise-like realm. Within it grew a grove of trees that produced immortality-giving golden apples. In this painting, youths and compliant satyrs bring various fruits, flowers and wild grains to two of the Hesperides, who fill and decorate the upright horn of plenty while another nymph places golden apples in a basket.