The Minotaur

George Frederic Watts1885

Tate Britain

Tate Britain

In Greek mythology the Minotaur, half-man, half-bull, was appeased by the annual sacrifice of virgins brought from mainland Athens to Crete. Watts shows the creature gazing out to sea in eager anticipation of his prey; the small bird crushed by his mighty fist symbolises the purity and vulnerability of youth The painting was inspired by a lurid exposure of the traffic in child prostitution by a journalist named WT Stead. The article, called 'The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon' and published in the Pall Mall Gazette in July 1885, was intended as an indictment of male lust.

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  • Title: The Minotaur
  • Creator: George Frederic Watts
  • Date Created: 1885
  • Provenance: Presented by the artist 1897
  • Physical Dimensions: w945 x h1181 mm
  • Original Title: The Minotaur
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas