Maurits Cornelis Escher
(17 June 1898 â€“ 27 March 1972), usually referred to as M. C. Escher,
was a Dutch graphic artist. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. These feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations.
Maurits Cornelis, nicknamed "Mauk", was born in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, in a house that forms part of the Princessehof Ceramics Museum today. He was the youngest son of civil engineer George Arnold Escher and his second wife, Sara Gleichman. In 1903, the family moved to Arnhem, where he attended primary school and secondary school until 1918.
He was a sickly child, and was placed in a special school at the age of seven and failed the second grade. Though he excelled at drawing, his grades were generally poor. He also took carpentry and piano lessons until he was thirteen years old. In 1919, Escher attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. He briefly studied architecture, but he failed a number of subjects (partly due to a persistent skin infection) and switched to decorative arts. Here he studied under Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, with whom he would remain friends for years. In 1922 Escher left the school, having gained experience in drawing and making woodcuts.
In 1922, an important year of his life, Escher traveled through Italy (Florence, San Gimignano, Volterra, Siena, Ravello) and Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Granada). He was impressed by the Italian countryside and by the Alhambra, a fourteenth-century Moorish castle in Granada, Spain. The intricate decorative designs at Alhambra, which were based on mathematical formulas and feature interlocking repetitive patterns sculpted into the stone walls and ceilings, were a powerful influence on Escher's works. He came back to Italy regularly in the following years.
In Italy Escher met Jetta Umiker, whom he married in 1924. The young couple settled down in Rome where their first son, Giorgio (George) Arnaldo Escher, named after his grandfather, was born. Escher and Jetta later had two more sons: Arthur and Jan.
In 1935, the political climate in Italy (under Mussolini) became totally unacceptable to Escher. He had no interest in politics, finding it impossible to involve himself with any ideals other than the expressions of his own concepts through his own particular medium, but he was averse to fanaticism and hypocrisy. When his eldest son, George, was forced, at the age of nine, to wear a Ballila uniform in school, the family decided to leave Italy. The family moved to ChÃ¢teau-d'Å’x, Switzerland, where they remained for two years.
Escher, who had been very fond of and inspired by the landscapes in Italy, was decidedly unhappy in Switzerland, and in 1937, the family moved again, to Uccle, a suburb of Brussels, Belgium. World War II forced them to move in January 1941, this time to Baarn, the Netherlands, where Escher lived until 1970. Most of Escher's better-known pictures date from this period. The sometimes cloudy, cold, wet weather of the Netherlands allowed him to focus intently on his works, and only during 1962, when he underwent surgery, was there a time when no new images were created.
Escher moved to the Rosa Spier house in Laren in 1970, a retirement home for artists where he had his own studio. He died at the home on 27 March 1972, at age 73.