Barye's Theseus and the Centaur depicts a moment in the battle between the Lapiths of Thessaly and the centaurs of Arcadia in which Theseus saves Hippodamia, daughter of the king of the Lapiths, from a centaur by violently slaying him.
Barye exhibited his semi-life-size plaster group of Theseus and the Centaur at the Paris Salon of 1850 to great acclaim. Théophile Gauthier wrote in response to viewing the work that it "showed that this Romantic who had been banned by the [Salon] jury was the modern sculptor who comes closest to Phidias and Greek sculpture."
M. Poletti and A. Richarme, Barye Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Paris, 2000, p. 111, no. F 34