Shown separately or together, as in Landscape with Allegories of the Four Elements, the four elements were a popular subject for Jan Brueghel the Younger and his collaborator Hendrik van Balen. Here, earth is represented by the goddess Ceres, who is surrounded with a satyr, putti, and a figure holding a sheaf of wheat. Ceres, whose name means "creator," was the goddess of agriculture, worshiped over a large part of ancient Italy
Together Jan Brueghel the Younger and Van Balen often painted the four elements, which had also been part of the repertoire of Jan the Younger's father, Jan Brueghel the Elder. Brueghel the Elder taught his son the lush, decorative, yet highly detailed landscape and still life style seen in this painting.
Van Balen, one of Jan the Younger's most consistent collaborators, was known for his attractive nudes. This panel was probably one of his latest works; he had begun painting figures for the Brueghel family years before, working with his friend Jan the Elder in addition to collaborating with Frans Snyders and Frans Francken II.