In the late 19th century the Aesthetic Movement celebrated the beauty of art. Painters began to focus on the visual qualities of their work rather than moral or narrative subjects. They no longer needed to specify an historical period in their artwork, which was regarded as being more interesting if it was ambiguous.
The title 'Dolce far Niente' translates as ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’. Perugini has not indicated where this scene is set. There is no suggestion hinting at the lives or circumstances of the two girls depicted. Their dresses are also loosely classical. This deliberately avoids any attempt to assign an historical period.