The monumental statue of the sun-god Helios was erected in Rhodes in 280 B.C. to celebrate the island's victory over the ruler of Cyprus. Of mythical status as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the monument with a mirror on his chest, holding a spear and a sword and standing astride Rhode’s harbor entrance, is set by de Vos in what looks closer to a North European location than a Mediterranean one, with a ship sailing through its legs. This large, highly finished drawing is preparatory for the print published in Antwerp by Gerard de Jode (1509-1591) (Fig.): the outlines of the design were incised with a stylus to transfer it to the copperplate, which follows the drawing almost exactly, only lacking the Sun above the figure’s head. As argued by Ilja Veldman, in this representation of the Colossus de Vos was possibly inspired by an illustration of the same statue published by André Thevet in his Cosmographie de Levant, published in 1556, a date that constitutes a terminus post quem for the present drawing and the related print.
Fig. Anonymous engraver after Maerten de Vos, Colossus solis, The British Museum, London.