By: Mercedies Moser
Maurits Cornelis (M.C.) Escher was born on June 17, 1898, in the Dutch province of Friesland. His parents, George Arnold Escher and Sarah Gleichman Escher, had three sons of which Maurits was the youngest. The Escher family was living in Leeuwarden in 1898, where George served as Chief Engineer for a government bureau. The family lived in a grand house named "Princessehof," which would later become a museum and host exhibitions of M.C. Escher's works. Young M.C. Escher moved with his family to Arnhem. M.C Escher lived in Arnhem for a while, in order to improve his health. In 1907, in secondary school, his marks were poor except in drawing. His art teacher took an interest in his drawing talent, and taught him to make linocuts. He failed his final exam and thus never officially graduated. In 1913, M.C. Escher met his lifelong friend Bas Kist. Kist was also interested in printing techniques, and may have encouraged M.C. to make his first linoleum cut works. In 1917, the two friends visited the artist Gert Stegeman, who had a printing press in his studio. Some of M.C.'s work from this year was apparently printed at Stegeman's. Also, in 1917, the Escher family moved to Oosterbeek, Holland. During these past few years, M.C. Escher and his friends became very involved in literature, and M.C. began to write some of his own poems and essays. In 1918, Escher began private lessons and studies in architecture at the Higher Technology School in Delft. He managed to get a deferrement on military service in order to study, but poor health prevented him from keeping up with the curriculum. As a result of always being sick he could not continue school (he had never successfully graduated from high school!). During this ruff period in time, Escher did many drawings, and also began using woodcuts as a medium. It was also at this time that his work began to receive favorable reviews in the media. Still trying to pursue a career in architecture, M.C. Escher next moved to Haarlem and began studies as the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts. After on a week in the city, he met the artist Jessurun de Mesquita. After seeing Escher's drawings, Mesquita and the school's director advised him to continue with them. He began full-time study of "the graphic and decorative arts" in the fall of 1919. Also at this time, he acquired a white cat as a present from his land-lady. In 1921, Escher and his parents visited the Riviera and Italy. Unimpressed by the tropical flowers of the Mediterranean climes, he made detailed drawings of cacti and olive trees. He also sought out high places and dramatic vistas to sketch, some of his later works were influenced by these sights. Escher started to experiment with themes that would suffuse his later works around this time. The woodcuts he did for a humorous booklet Easter Flowers exhibit several: mirror images, crystal shapes, and spheres. The first print by M.C. Escher to sell in large numbers was St. Francis (Preaching to the Birds), a woodcut that Escher claimed to have "worked on like a madman." (www.wikipedia.com)In 1922, in search of fresh inspiration, he decided to go to Italy. He did a great deal of serious drawing here and in the next few towns he visited: Volterra and Siena. He spent all of the spring of 1922 roaming the Italian countryside, drawing landscapes, plants, and even insects. In Assissi he met a fellow Dutchman, the painter Gerretsen. The two met occasionally over the next few years. He took his first opportunity to return to southern Europe, taking a freighter to Spain with some friends. It was on this trip that he first saw the phenomenon of a phosphorescent sea, so beautifully expressed later in his woodcut of the same name. He visited Madrid and its famous museum, the Prado, but was unimpressed by many of the paintings there. Missing an express train, he spent 24 hours on a local train to get to Granada. In Granada, Escher visited the Alhambra, and...
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