Written by Mustafa Özkan

Referred to as “Three-Quarter”, a glance staring back at you no matter the direction you view from, is the common feature of the two popular artworks, one displayed in Gaziantep and the other in Paris. Here are the eight observations loaded with culture from Zeugma to Louvre.

One must rewind the film and talk about its location in order to get informed about The Gipsy Girl mosaic which is among rare items in Zeugma Museum located in Gaziantep. Zeugma, one of the most prominent and wealthy Roman city in Anatolia, is within the borders of Nizip district in Gaziantep. The first residents arrived in the city around 300 BC in Alexander the Great period and city is later named after the bridge that connects Commagene and Mesopotamia. Zeugma was a rich city in the Ancient Age is also a military city where legionaries were deployed.
The discovery of 1,5 meters tall bronze ‘Mars’ statue that is the symbol of combat and abundance here, is a proof
to that. This artifact is displayed in Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep. On the other hand, numerous villas built on
terraces overlooking Fırat River indicate that city was a trade center. A number of mosaic and sculpture workshops had been established to bedeck these villas. The site referred as Belkıs in the region, is the settlement established here after it fell under Turkish domination.

And Louvre Museum in Paris that hosts the famous ‘Mona Lisa’ painting… Museum opened right after the French
Revolution, is known as one of the most visited art venues in the world. Around half a million art works are exhibited in the museum visited by almost 15 million visitors annually. Painting collection is one of the most popular sections in the museum featuring numerous sections such as sculpture, Mediterranean arts, manuscripts and archaeological
artifacts. Middle Age French and classical European paintings by artists such as Fragonard,Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Poussin and David are predominantly displayed in this section.

Brought together by a glance although they originate from far lands, the similarities between the two magnificent
artworks are as follows:

1. Both ‘The Gipsy Girl’ and ‘Mona Lisa’ barely survived tragic events. The first event occurred when the construction
of Birecik Dam is launched in 1996. Zeugma Ancient City was situated right at the construction area for the main
body of the dam. ‘The Gipsy Girl’ is one of nearly 50 mosaics saved from being submerged at the last moment. Louvre Museum survived a major fire in 1871. Thousands of artworks were saved from destruction just in time.

2. Both Zeugma and Louvre are among world’s largest museums in their respective fields. In Zeugma that is one
of world’s largest mosaic museums, mosaics dating back to Roman Period and late Ancient Age spread over an
area of 2748 meter-squares. Louvre features one of the most comprehensive art collections in the world under a
single roof.

3. ‘The Gipsy Girl’, unearthed in 1998 as part of a mosaic destroyed in large part, became the symbol of Zeugma in
a short time. One of the first things that appear in mind when Louvre Museum is mentioned, oil painting titled ‘Mona Lisa shines out of hundreds of paintings that surround it despite its small dimensions of 77×53 centimeters.

4. No matter which direction you view from, ‘The Gipsy Girl’ is similar to ‘Mona Lisa’ with this aspect. ‘The Gipsy Girl’ with her wavy hair, earrings and deep, impressive glances is thought to be one of the followers of Earth Goddess Gaia or Dionysus. Another claim is that the portrait depicted in the mosaic is not of a girl, but of a handsome boy.

5. Leonardo da Vinci was able to complete ‘Mona Lisa’ he started making in 1503 in 16 years. However since then speculations regarding the painting never cease to end. One of the claims is that the artist painted the attractive features of an unattractive model. Some art historians believe that Leonardo da Vinci made the painting with inspiration from Chinese artists. Besides, there are numerous rumors surrounding the symbols thought to
be in the painting. Art critic Walter Pater claimed in 1867 that there are a number of hidden symbols concerning
femininity on the painting.

6. Numerous masterpieces of Ancient Age are displayed around ‘The Gipsy Girl’: ‘Poseidon’, ‘Oceanus’ and ‘Tethys’,
‘Euphrates’, ‘Demeter’, ‘Metiochus’, ‘Parthenope’, ‘Daedalus’, and ‘Achilles’ mosaics are just some of those.

7. ‘Mona Lisa’ has numerous next-door neighbours just like ‘The Gipsy Girl’. Among the artworks in the art collection
spreading over almost the entire first and second floors of the museum worth seeing are ‘Turkish Bath’ by Ingres, ‘The Lacemaker’ by Vermeer, Auto-portrait by Dürer and various works by Rubens.

8. Both artworks stand out with superior artistic techniques and artistic features. Zeugma mosaics with an incredible
variety depict numerous themes from mythological stories to everyday scenes, from animal figures to geometrical
decorations. Da Vinci who painted ‘Mona Lisa’ initially used the pyramid design for the painting. He placed model’s bent hands on the corner of the pyramid. He saw fit to paint her chest, neck and face brighter in comparison to her hands. Light in the painting demonstrates that a geometrical sketch underlies the painting. In fact, da Vinci painted an ordinary woman sitting in the painting. According to experts, painting a sitting woman was not common in the 16th century.

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Mustafa Özkan

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