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M.C. Escher Castrovalva (Abruzzi) lithograph 53,0 x 42,1 cm February 1930

The Castrovalva (Abruzzi) print shows you the landscape through the eyes of a hiker. This hiker was M.C. Escher, who travelled through Italy many times during his life. Castrovalva is a hamlet in the Abruzzi that overlooks the nature reserve of the Gorges de la Sagittario. Escher’s visual walk begins in the foreground, in the left-hand corner, where he draws plants and crawling insects in detail. Beyond a narrow road which clings to a vertiginously steep mountain cliff, an impressive cloudscape looms over the mountain peaks in the distance. In the valley, we see two villages, yet also the plants in the foreground demand the attention of our eye.

Although this 1930 lithograph appears to be very true to nature, Escher uses a number of tricks to intensify the illusion of depth. For example, the steep mountain walls have been exaggerated slightly, and the plants in the foreground are very large. This makes it seem as if everything else is even farther away.