A grinning centaur, a mythological creature that is half-man and half-horse, stands proudly in this sculpture. He carries a set of panpipes and an animal skin is draped over his left arm. Colored marble such as this was quite expensive and a popular symbol of wealth in the Roman world. It was used primarily for architectural decoration and occasionally for sculpture.
This sculpture, acquired by the Getty Museum as a Roman work and believed to have come from the ruins of the palace of the emperor Domitian, has been recently reexamined. These studies suggest that the sculpture was in fact made in the 1700s as a copy of a Roman statue. The centaur is covered with pointing marks that are not ancient.
The Getty Museum centaur is remarkably similar to another centaur carved by the eighteenth-century sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, who offered copies of Roman centaurs in his sales catalogue. The Getty centaur may also be the work of Cavaceppi.