ArtLex Art Dictionary


cc olossus and colossal - A colossus is a monumental (very large) statue. It might also refer to someone or something that is very great in size (magnitude) or importance.

"Colossal" is the adjectival form, meaning very great — often something negative, as in "colossal bore" or "colossal failure." It can also refer to works that are very great in size. A synonym is gigantic; and the preference for things gigantic is "gigantism."




Egyptian, Colossus of Amenophis IV-Akhenaton, c. 1365-1360 BCE, sandstone with residues of paint, 1.37 x 0.88 x 0.60 m, Louvre. See Egyptian art and fragment.




see thumbnail to rightCharles of Liondos, Colossus of Rhodes, Greek, c. 292 - 280 BCE, bronze, as painted by M. Larrinaga. This statue of a Helios the sun-god was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Over 100 feet tall (30 m), it stood beside (not astride, as it is shown in this and other depictions) the entrance to the harbor at the Greek island of Rhodes. It commemorated a victorious defense of the island in 304 BCE. Its sculptor, Charles of Liondos finished the statue after twelve years of work. In c. 225 BCE. the Colossus fell in a strong earthquake, having broken at its knees. But the fallen figure remained until 653 CE, when it was broken up by Arab raiders and sold as scrap to a dealer in Syria. It was said that the fragments had to be transported to Syria on the backs of 900 camels. See Greek art and mythology.




see thumbnail to leftRoman, Colossus Neronis, bronze, height 37 m. After two-thirds of Rome were ruined by the great fire in 64 CE, Roman Emperor Nero used this land as a site for his new palace, Domus Aurea or "golden house", including rooms and hallways lavishly decorated in gold. One of the most visible features of the Domus Aurea was the Colossus Neronis: a 37-meter-high bronze statue of Nero placed just outside of the entrance. This monstrosity was built in imitation of the Colossus of Rhodes. The colossus was affixed with the heads of several emperors before Hadrian moved it to the Amphitheatrum Flavium. This building took the name Colosseum in the Middle Ages, so called after the statue outside of it. The name stuck and is used to this day. See Roman art.





see thumbnail to leftMichelangelo Buonarotti, David , 1501-04, marble, statue height 17 feet, base 6 feet x 1 foot 5 1/4 inches x 1 foot 2 7/8 inches, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence. [see thumbnail to rightdetail: the head] Michelangelo began work on the colossal figure of David in 1501, and by 1504 the sculpture was in place outside the Palazzo Vecchio. The choice of David was supposed to reflect the power and determination of Republican Florence and was under constant attack from supporters of the usurped Medicis. In the nineteenth century the statue was moved to the Accademia. See Renaissance.




see thumbnail to leftRichard Dalton (English, 1715 or 20 - 1791), The Farnese Hercules, 1742, chalk on paper, 52.9 x 36.5 cm, Tate Gallery, London. The subject of this drawing is a 2nd century colossal Greek statue of Hercules, now exhibited in the Museo Nazionale, Naples. The sculpture may have been inspired by a 4th century BCE bronze by Lysippus.




see thumbnail to rightFrancisco Goya (Spanish, 1746-1828), The Colossus, 1808-12, oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 41 1/4 inches, Museo del Prado, Madrid. See Romanticism.









see thumbnail to rightFrederic Auguste Bartholdi (French, 1834-1904), Liberty Enlightening the World, "Statue of Liberty", presented to the United States by France, dedicated in 1886, height 119 feet from feet to crown, harbor of New York City. Also see icon.










Also see Cyclopean, monument, and Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.




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