Lucas Cranach the Elder often painted carefully described animals, one of his particular specialties and a typical manifestation of Renaissance interest in nature. He frequently depicted stags, both as victims of the hunt and as onlookers. Here Cranach began with a sketch in black chalk, which he then went over rapidly with a brush and ink wash, using broad strokes to create the long, furry winter coat. He then freely applied varied washes to the legs and antlers.
On the verso, a quickly brushed yet well-formed three-dimensional goat grazes energetically. The head of another goat is cut off by the edge of the paper, and a light black chalk sketch of a third peers outward above the neck of the main animal. All three animals stare saucily at the viewer with engagingly direct gazes.