Maurits Cornelis Escher, (or M. C. Escher, as he is known to virtually everyone who has heard of him), is known primarily for his incredible artistic talent that mingles a surreal sense of beauty with mathematical connotations and tesselations that often "tweak the mind" and leave eveyone from the first-time viewer to the Escher connosieur in an awe-struck stupor.
The small town of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands can boast bringing this world-renouned artist to life on June 17th, 1898, roughly 100 years ago. He spent most of his youth and was schooled in the city of Arnhem, where he was taught primary skills and began his study of art. F. W. van der Haagen, Escher's art teacher, instructed him in various forms, such as linoleum prints. Whether Escher's full aptitude had shown itself by this point and simply not been noticed as anything unusual, or there simply hadn't been the time for his talent to devellop to a significant degree to warrant notice, is not known at this time.
Showing an interest in graphic art (and following his father's advice), he went to a secondary school in Haarlem to study architecture. However, in 1919 a Dutch artist there (at the now defunct School for Architectural and Decorative Arts) by the name of Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita recognized
After graduating from his school in Haarlem, Escher travelled constantly, mainly in Italy, but by no means excluding other places throughout Europe. Even taking into account he had seen much of Europe by 1923, Italy had always fascinated him, so it was that he chose to reside in Rome, where he lived happily until 1935.
Between the years of 1926 and 1935, Escher travelled the Italian countryside, often journeying to difficult-to-reach sections that were only accessible by foot. Abruzzi, Viterbo, the Island of Corsica, Calabria, Amalfi, and several other locations throughout southern Italy were haunts of Escher. It was on these trips that he made sketches of everything that interested him. During the cold winter months when travel was impeded, he would spend his time inside working these sketches out into prints.
As much as Escher loved Rome, he did not spend the rest of his days there. Due to the rise in fascism in the 1930's, Escher found life in Rome less and less bearable. It was for this reason that in July of 1935 he relocated to Chateau d'Oex in Switzerland.
1937 marked the twilight of his expedition years, as it was that in the previous year between May and June, he travelled by ocean freighter along the coast of Italy to Spain. As usual, Escher made various detailed copies of artwork to be reworked into his own. Two places in particular were the Moorish mosaics found in Alhambra, and the mosque La Mezquita at Cordoba. Since this time Escher has been much less mobile, and travelled only as a form of vacation, to visit his children who lived abroad, or in response to lecture on his own work. England, Canada, the United States are some places in which Escher has visited for such purposes.
After his move in 1937 to Ukkel near Brussels, he travelled
once again to Baarn in his homeland, the Netherlands. 1970 was the last
time Escher moved, when eventually settled in Laren.
The World of M.C. Escher, by Maurits Cornelis Escher. Published by H.N. Abrams, New York, 1971.
The Graphic Work of M. C. Escher, by Maurits Cornelis Escher. Published by Hawthorn Books, New York, 1961.