MosaicBlues: September 2017 .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Mona Lisa of Gallilee - A case of plagiarism in Roman Mosaic Art ?

Since the beginning of humanity, artists have been borrowing from each other.  In a previous post, I wrote about the amazing similarities between a 2nd century BC Pasiphae Mosaic in Zeugma - Turkey and a 1st century AD fresco from the House of the Vettii in Pompeii, Italy. 

Today I'd like to share with you an example of a troubling resemblance between 2 Roman mosaics.

The stunning Mona Lisa of Galilee was unearthed from the ancient city of Sepphoris, an ancient town  grown between the 1st cent. BC and the 7th century to become a thriving administrative, commercial and religious center with a diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-religious population of some 30,000 living in relatively peaceful coexistence.


Roman mosaic portrait depicting a captivating woman adorned with earrings and a laurel garland, Triclium of the Roman Villa, Sepphoris, Galilee, Israel.
The Mona Lisa of Galilee


Her enigmatic smile can presently be admired in the antic town of Zippori on the Triclinium floor of the Roman Villa.

I stumbled on the "Mosaique au buste feminin" - Female Torso mosaic - browsing the Internet for Roman mosaic portraits, and she immediately reminded me of someone...


This gorgeous piece had been auctioned by a French Art Dealer for the modest price of 5,500.00 Euros.



Mosaïque au buste féminin. Elle représente le buste d'une femme, la tête légèrement tournée, les cheveux ceints d'une couronne végétale, dans un décor de rinceaux. Marbre, calcite et pâte de verre. Art Romain, ca. IVe siècle. 51,5 cm x 34,5 cm
Mosaique au buste feminin.

Although obviously the two pieces are not of the same aesthetic quality, the resemblance is stunning. This beauty cannot possibly be a copy made from memory. Either she was laid from a drawing made after the first piece, or the drawing used to lay her was a copy of the drawing used to lay the first piece.
Unfortunately, we do not know the provenance of this mosaic. My attempts at contacting the auctioneer were not successful. The catalog lists her as "ca 4th century AD", which would make both mosaics contemporary. 

Now, why would a modern mosaic artist care for this kind of things ? Well, maybe for the same reasons why Renaissance masters cared for Roman Art...

I am a modern mosaic artist with a deep admiration for ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Arts.
You can see my own mosaics on my site at mosaicblues.  

If you are interested by my work or would like to drop me a line please contact me by email at 
or by phone at (334) 798 1639. 

You can also 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Roman Mosaic Art - Andromeda & Perseus.

The Myth of Andromeda and Perseus has been the subject of numerous ancient and modern works of art, which typically show the moment when Perseus rescues her from the Monster Cetos.

Andromeda & Perseus - Fresco, Pompeii

When her mother Queen Cassiopeia  boasted that  Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids,  Poseidon sent the sea monster Cetus to ravage the coast of Ethiopia. An Oracle announced that to save his kingdom the King would have to sacrifice his daughter to the monster. And so Andromeda was chained naked to a rock on the coast.

Perseus, who was passing by on his way back from slaying Medusa came to rescue the Maiden. Sneaking upon Cetus under a cloak of invisibility, he killed him, set Andromeda free, and married her.

The intricacies of the center piece are enhanced by the sober design of this mosaic border

On this 3rd century mosaic from Gaziantep, Turkey, Perseus is still holding the head of Medusa slained earlier in the story. 

The names on the mosaics are written in Greek characters as People from that part of the empire were generally speaking Greek rather than latin. 

Mosaic borders were expertly used by Roman mosaicists to create the same effect wooden frames have on paintings. The relatively simple design of this one contrasts with the intricacies of the mythological scene and pulls our eyes and attention toward the main scene. 

Here is this pattern : 

Mosaic borders enhance the visibility of a mosaic like a wooden frame enhances our enjoyment of painting.
Andromeda - Perseus Mosaic border pattern.

I am currently building a library of Roman Mosaic borders to be used in modern mosaics. 

My mosaic border patterns are available for sale for use in your mosaics.
Meander border on Carola Quinta Mosaic (Work in Progress)

Would you be interested in using some of those patterns for your own art ? Please contact me at

I am a French mosaicist
living in Headland, Alabama, USA.
My Art is about inspiring people.
You can see some of my work 

You can contact me either by phone 
at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 
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