Modelled for Orazio Cervi a year earlier, Hamo Thornycroft's Teucer was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in plaster in 1881. The following year, the monumental bronze version was shown and both it and the plaster were received with outstanding acclaim: 'There has rarely been such unanimity of applause as greeted this statue ... it is very easy to admit that recent times have shown us nothing in England to compare with it' (Miss Zimmern). According to Mrs. Elfrida Manning, the sculptor's daughter, no more than 25 of these small-scale bronzes were produced by Thornycroft, cast as demand arose and hand-finished by him.
Thornycroft had planned to model a series of athletes playing English games, primarily as studies of the nude. He had exhibited one such example, Putting the Stone, in 1880, and with Teucer was able to exploit a long-desired composition, that of the right angle. The subject-matter is taken from the Iliad. Teucer was the archer who missed hitting Hector eight times. Here he is captured by Thornycroft in a tense and strained position as he shoots a last arrow and watches its course. The Homeric theme adds a Romantic and grave air to the model, but above all Teucer was a supreme exercise in the modelling of the male nude at its peak of activity. It follows in the trail of Leighton's Athlete wrestling with a Python, but is more classical and graceful; it speaks of Grecian ideals, but the head wrapped in its band and the moving fingers of the right hand convey a truly late 19th century sense of poetry. As Thornycroft's biographer explained: 'The care and attention that he lavished on each individual casting of those works that were made available in limited editions, for example Teucer or the Mower, not only demonstrates his professional artistic commitment, making each one a unique work of art; but also testifies ... to a desire to bring art into the home' (E. Manning, Marble & Bronze, The Art and Life of Hamo Thornycroft, London, 1982, p. 14).
Other casts of this bronze were sold Christie's London, A Private Collection of British Sculpture from Villa San Maurizio, La Jolla, California, 8 June 2006, lot 222 (£10,800); from the Charles Plante Collection, sold Christie's South Kensington, 4 June 2008, lot 354 (£15,625); and Christie’s London The Gothick Pavilion – A Private Collection from Belgravia, 26 January 2011, lot 326 (£21,250).