Known in his paintings for exploring the effects of light on surfaces, Titian here showed that he could achieve similar results with line. His meticulous execution and concern for detail suggest the light, space, and variety of physical forms in the landscape. He suggested textures through varying styles of line, from the loose sketchiness of the puffy trees at the left to the more detailed, yet fluidly rendered, drapery on the female figure at the right. Carefully and economically placed hatchings capture the goat's shimmering fur. Titian even created air with line, as in the atmosphere that envelops the distant city.
The subject is enigmatic, though it may relate to the erotic mythologies that Titian was painting for King Philip II of Spain at about the same time. The underlying theme may be Idleness or Indolence, represented by the two shepherds lounging in the shade with their flock of sheep. Indolence may lead to Lust, personified by the female nude whose face is covered and accompanied by her attributes, the goat and the boar.