The legendary Greek hero Achilles, son of the sea-nymph Thetis, in his youth was entrusted to the wise and learned Centaur Chiron by his father Peleus, King of the Myrmidons. Chiron fed Achilles the entrails of lions, bears and swine to give him the strength of those animals.
This series, consisting of eight panels, was designed by Peter Paul Rubens (d. 1640) probably between 1630 and 1635. It is not known by whom it was commissioned, but the presence of the oil sketches for the series in Daniel Fourement's possessions (he was a tapestry dealer and the father-in-law of Rubens as of 1630) between 1643 and 1653, it is generally assumed that they were designed for him. This series can be divided into two groups of four tapestries each, one depicting the youth and adolescence of Achilles, the other the adulthood with his love for others. It was the first time since classical antiquity that the subject had been portrayed in a series and Rubens illustrated many scenes from the story for the first time. He drew inspiration from many sources and based this scene on the famous Borghese Centaur, a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture.
The first set from this series was woven in wool, silk and metal-thread in the workshop of Daniel Eggermans sometime before 1642. The Story of Achilles was woven several times between 1642 and 1665. The larges number was woven by Jan van Leefdael and Gerard van der Strecken, while examples are also recorded by Jan and Frans Raes and Willem van Leefdael. Four full executions of this subject are recorded. (E. Janssen et al., Rubenstextiel, exhibition catalogue, Antwerpen, 1997, pp. 106 - 125)
A tapestry of identical design is illustrated in 'Brusselse wantapijten in Rubens' eeuw, exhibition catalogue, Brussels, 1977, p. 111.