Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) is one of the world’s most famous graphic artists. He is best known for his so-called impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending and Relativity, and his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis, Sky & Water I and Reptiles. Escher also made some wonderful, realistic works during the time he lived and traveled in Italy.
During his lifetime, M.C. Escher made 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and over 2000 drawings and sketches. Like some of his famous predecessors, - Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Durer and Holbein, he was left-handed. Apart from being a graphic artist, he illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals.
Escher was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, the fourth and youngest son of a civil engineer. After 5 years the family moved to Arnhem where Escher spent most of his youth. After failing his high school exams, Maurits ultimately was enrolled in the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem. After only one week, he informed his father that he wanted to study graphic art instead of architecture; he had shown his drawings and linoleum cuts to his graphics teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, who encouraged him to continue with graphic arts.
After finishing school, he traveled extensively through Italy, where he met his wife Jetta Umiker, whom he married in 1924. They settled in Rome, where they stayed until 1935. During these 11 years, Escher would travel each year throughout Italy, drawing and sketching for the various prints he would make when he returned home. Many of these sketches he would later use for various other lithographs and/or woodcuts and wood engravings, for example the background in the lithograph Waterfall stems from his Italian period, or the trees reflecting in the woodcut Puddle, which are the same trees Escher used in his woodcut "Pineta of Calvi", which he made in 1932.
M.C. Escher became fascinated by the regular Division of the Plane, when he first visited the Alhambra, a fourteen century Moorish castle in Granada, Spain in 1922. During the years in Switzerland and throughout the Second World War, he vigorously pursued his hobby, by drawing 62 of the total of 137 Regular Division Drawings he would make in his lifetime. Escher’s illusions with perspective, architecture and impossible spaces as well as his keen sense of observation continue to amaze and wonder millions of people all over the world.