The third in the series of the Three Archetypes represents Roxelane, a famous figure who changed the course of history. Joukhadar has chosen the decisive moment on the Roxelane’s first night with the Sultan. Seated on the edge of the bed, she has a mission to accomplish: in front of her is Suleiman, the mortal enemy she must conquer. Exchange of looks, challenge: who will lower the eyes first? She holds her ground, enjoys this moment of embarrassment, sustained by the hatred which multiplies her strength of character. Lips clenched, concentrated, determined, she almost smiles. The sheets seem to be able to tear under her hand. She wins: he looks down, auspicious sign. Now it is she who dominates.

Historical reminder

Roxelane was a slave in the harem of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Istanbul. She was mysteriously supported and pushed to the rank of favourite, eventually becoming the Sultan’s wife. She thus succeeded in obtaining, for the first time in the history of the Ottoman Empire, the exceptional status of ‘Sultana’.

She literally changed the course of history by eliminating Ibrahim Pasha, the friend of Suleiman the Magnificent and leader of his armies, whom she accused of wanting to seize power for personal ambitions; he was miserably executed. And thus the extraordinary Ottoman army was decapitated. Some decades before, it had achieved the unthinkable by capturing Constantinople.

This supernatural army was then at the gates of Vienna. Even if the fall of the last Muslim kingdom of Spain was recent, if Vienna had fallen, Europe, torn by its internal struggles, would have collapsed before the Ottoman army. Continuing her mission, Roxelane gets rid of the embarrassing competition of the brilliant elder son of the Sultan, and heir to the throne, using the same charges as those launched earlier against Ibrahim Pasha, and with the same tragic end. The second son of the Sultan is said to have died of grief for his brother; rather, he would have been poisoned.

From then on, the way was open before Roxelane. Thus she inaugurated a line of degenerate and incapable Sultans by placing her own drunken and depraved son as successor of Suleiman the Magnificent and her son-in-law as Prime Minister.

In this way, she stopped the Ottoman advance in Europe. If one reflects upon the consequences of an Ottoman victory, Roxelane really changed the course of History. She may be considered a veritable monster by some, and as one of the greatest heroines in the history of humanity by others.

The unique work-object

Those who were lucky enough to admire the painting closely were initially fascinated by this breathtaking female beauty, a sublime beauty, almost angelic. Then, while they cannot leave this face with their eyes, they realize that the atmosphere of the painting changes little by little. At the end of a quarter of an hour, Roxelane’s gaze and the indefinable expression of her face, changing from minute to minute, especially with tiny changes in lighting, arouse the fear that one feels in the presence of a supernatural phenomenon.

Joukhadar explained that he realized ‘Roxelane’ in a single shot, in less than an hour, after months of reflection, with no drawing or preliminary study. The result is the fruit of years of reflection on the style of Leonardo da Vinci, on the possibility of playing with the benchmarks of visual perception.

The aura, the atmosphere, or the changing expressions of this symbolic portrait are once again evidence provided by Joukhadar of the possibility of introducing into an artistic work properties which cannot be reproduced by photography or other technical means. No tool can replace the hand of the artist and no device can replace the eye of the spectator.