Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. His art is admired by millions of people worldwide, as can be seen by the many websites on the internet.
He is born in Leeuwarden as the fourth and youngest son. After five years the family moves to Arnhem, where he spends most of his youth. After he has failed his final exam, and after a short interlude in Delft, M.C. Escher starts with his lessons in architecture at the School of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem.
Already after a week he informs his father that he wants to quit his architecture lessons and focus on studying graphic arts. He is supported in this by his teacher Samuel Jesserun de Mesquita, to whom he has shown his drawings and linocuts. After completing his school, he travels for a long time through Italy, where he meets his wife Jetta Umiker and whom he marries in 1924. They go to Rome, where they live until 1935. During these 11 years M.C. Escher travels every year through Italy where he makes drawings and sketches that he later uses in his studio for his lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings.
For example, the background in the lithograph Waterfall (1961) comes from his Italian period. The trees that are reflected in the woodcut Puddle(1952) are also the same trees that he uses in his woodcut Pineta by Calvi, made in 1932.
During the time that he lives and works in Italy, he makes beautiful, also more realistic works such as the Castrovalva litho in which one can see already his fascination for perspective: close, far, high and low. Likewise is the lithograph Atrani, a small town on the Amalfi coast in Italy, which he makes in 1931 and comes back in his masterpieces Metamorphosis I and II.
He is most famous for his so-called impossible drawings, such as Ascending and Descending and Relativity, but also for his metamorphoses, such as Metamorphosis I, II and III, Air and Water I and Reptiles.
During his lifetime, Escher made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and more than 2000 drawings and sketches. Just like some of his famous predecessors – Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer and Holbein – Escher is left-handed.
In addition to his work as a graphic artist, he illustrates books, designs carpets and banknotes, stamps, murals, intarsia panels etc.
M.C. Escher is fascinated by the regular geometric figures of the wall and floor mosaics in the Alhambra, a fourteenth-century castle in Granada, Spain, which he visits in 1922 and 1936.
During his years in Switzerland and throughout the Second World War, he works with great energy on his hobby. He then makes 62 of the 137 symmetrical drawings he will make in his life. He also expands his hobby by using these symmetrical drawings for cutting wooden balls.
He plays with architecture, perspective and impossible spaces. His art continues to amaze and wonder millions of people around the world. In his work we recognize his excellent observation of the world around us and the expression of his own fantasy. M.C. Escher shows us that reality is wonderful, understandable and fascinating.