With his right arm outstretched, the part-man, part-horse Chiron teaches Achilles to hunt with bow and arrow. The young pupil follows the centaur's guidance and directs his weapon toward a target beyond the sheet's top right corner. The two figures hold relatively similar poses, conveying the emotional bond between them. The drawing also suggests movement and power: as the pair turn to the upper right, Chiron's horse-body hurtles diagonally through the center of the composition.
In 1838, the forty-year old Eugène Delacroix received one of his most significant public commissions: the large curved ceiling of the Deputies' Library of the Palais Bourbon. Completed in 1847, Delacroix's decorative program illustrated the themes of Philosophy, Science, Poetry, Law, and Theology. Related to the theme of Poetry, this pencil drawing on tracing paper, is one of several in which Delacroix explored this dynamic composition. It was conceived to accommodate an unusually shaped section of the library's ceiling. Delacroix kept this work in his studio and returned to it more than twenty years later when he created a pastel of the same subject, also in the Getty's collection, as a gift for the writer Georges Sand.