Escher todayHere we tap into dates from M.C. Eschers life and work, jumping through time but always in the now. All year round you can enjoy background stories, anecdotes and trivia about this fascinating artist.
Inspiration can be taken not only from a direct mentor (who is essential for each and every art student) but also from masters from past eras. Escher, for instance, learned not only from his teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita but also from looking to the past. In turn, De Mesquita drew on work by an old master too. Looking to precedents produced by artists from before one’s time is extremely common. Working in the style of or imitating well-known pictures is one way for artists to draw on the techniques and ideas of their heroes and to challenge themselves by looking at art from another person’s perspective
Flat surfaces were tremendously important to M.C. Escher. A two-dimensional blank sheet of paper gave him the opportunity to explore the infinite and to conjure illusions. On such sheets he would create deceptive three-dimensional worlds in which order and chaos are in conflict, just like in the real world. But despite order frequently losing out to chaos in the real world, Escher turned this on its head.
The period between 1934 and 1936 is widely recognised as a time of great transition in the artistic oeuvre of M.C. Escher. Gradually shifting his focus away from interpretations of Italian landscapes, Escher began to look for something new to incorporate into his work. This quest resulted in an approach that would become one of his best-known specialisms: merging worlds that did not, or simply could not, co-exist and bringing them together in a single image. The extreme perspectives on display in Still Life with Spherical Mirror – in which Escher depicts a reflection of himself and his environment – marked the artist’s first foray into this style. The pieces Still Life with Mirror and Still Life and Street are two other early examples of Escher’s merging worlds. Later, this desire to reflect impossible realities would lead to prints such as Other World, Double Planetoid, Gravity, Relativity, Print Gallery, Belvedere and Waterfall. Escher took an intriguing detour from this path with Dream (Mantis Religiosa), which depicts an impossible scene that is explicitly labelled by Escher himself as a dream.
A remarkable self-portrait by Rembrandt will be on display at our museum from 29 November until 29 January. It is a self-portrait with a stormy history, disappearing off the radar for many years and now returning to the place where it hung for a long time in the nineteenth century. This painting can be seen in the royal ballroom of the palace, amid M.C. Escher's prints. Despite the obvious link between this self-portrait by Rembrandt and Lange Voorhout Palace, there also appear to be undeniable connections between Rembrandt and Escher.
2022 has come to an end and it has been another special and unforgettable year. These days, we look back on all the wonderful things we have been able to organise this year. No fewer than four temporary exhibitions have been held in the museum, in addition to the permanent presentation of Escher's art!
We also aimed to share as many stories as possible about Escher's life and art with you through our social media channels, our website and the in-depth articles we wrote. All of the wonderful images that we have shared this year can be found in this special end-of-year animation. We thank everyone for their attention and support over the past year and hope to inspire you again in the Escher anniversary year 2023 with our stories and images!
In October 1952, M.C. Escher created a series of woodcuts on the subject of the four elements. It was a commissioned work for collector and graphic art fanatic Eugène Strens and his wife Willy. Eugène Strens (1899 - 1980) was trained as an engineer, but his great passion was graphic art.
In general, mirrors reflect reality, but in the world of art, different laws apply. Certainly in the world of Maurits Cornelis Escher. Here, nothing is what it seems. His prints are instantly recognisable, but the man behind them was something of an enigma. He looks at you in mirror prints such as Hand with Reflecting Sphere or Three Spheres II. Confident, empathic. But also composed and perhaps even a little mocking.
To create confusion. That was what God had in mind when he made the people who were building a tower to heaven all speak different languages. In no time at all, it was chaos, and the construction was stopped immediately. For if you can no longer talk to each other, how can you continue to build together at such a height?
It was a fact of life for Escher that his health deteriorated during the late 1960s. He struggled with it his entire life, but this particular decade was a succession of good and bad spells. During the good spells, he was alert and active; during the bad ones, poor health dominated his life. In the spring of 1969 he had a good spell again and he filled his time with a number of lectures, produced 40 prints of Day and Night (although he thought that this was a waste of his precious time) and devised and created a new print.
It was working on something new that made him especially happy. In a letter to his son George, he wrote that he was 'wild with excitement' about Snakes. In the winter of 1967/1968, he had extended his Metamorphosis II to Metamorphosis III, but the last new print preceding it originated from autumn 1966. He therefore devoted himself wholeheartedly to this new stream of creativity, despite being afflicted by poor health. The development process took a great deal of energy, and he often had to stop work in order to take a break.
In December 1958 and January 1959, Escher worked on a new print that he intended to display at an exhibition in Museum Boymans in February. Adopting the group name Vier Grafici (‘Four Graphic Artists’), he was exhibiting with Harry van Kruiningen, Wout van Heusden and Harry Disberg. A company he had been in before. He wrote about the print in a letter to his son George and his wife Corrie:
"After a week of endless dispiration, I again find myself exploring tetrahedral and octahedral space: caves and caverns, wondrous pillars, abysses and vistas, all rigorously four-sided and eight-sided. My plan now is to finally have the cross-eyed flatworm I love swim in it."