In this terrible figure, half man, half bull, gazing over the sea from the battlement of a hill tower, we see the artist's representation of the greed and lust associated with modern civilisations. The picture was exhibited at the Winter Exhibition of the New Gallery, 1896, and formed part of the Watts Gift in 1897. It hangs in the Watts Room at the Tate Gallery.
Italy, and particularly Florence, was perpetual fascination and inspiration to Watts. There he imbibed the influences of Orcagna and Titian--influences, indeed, which were clearly represented in the next monumental painting which he attempted. It came about that Lord Holland persuaded his guest to enter a fresh competition for the decoration of the Parliament Houses, and Watts carried off the prize with his "Alfred inciting the Saxons to resist the landing of the Danes." The colour and movement of the great Italian masters, conspicuously absent from the "Caractacus" cartoon, were to be seen in this new effort, where, as has been said, the English king stands like a Raphaelesque archangel in the midst of the design.
From: Watts (1817-1904) by William Loftus Hare