M.C. (Mauritis Cornelis) Escher (1898-1972, Dutch) is one of the most famous graphic artists of all time. Influenced by Moorish designs at the Alhambra and the use of mathematics in art, he produced more than 2,000 drawings and sketches. The youngest son of a civil engineer, he was not a very good student, as he never graduated high school, but did show promise in drawing. By 1918, he began private lessons in architecture in Delft. Because of poor health, he was rejected from service in the military in 1919 and could not continue his schooling. Even so, Escher produced many drawings and woodcuts during this period. After moving to Haarlem in the same year, he met the artist Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita who encouraged him to study graphic and decorative arts. His new landlady presented him with a white cat who became an apt subject for his work in high contrast woodcut and pen and ink graphics.
M.C. Escher held his first show in Siena in August of 1923. In the same month he proposed to his future wife, Jetta. In July 1926, their first son, George was born. Escher’s fame was proved by the attendance of King Emmanuel and Mussolini at the boy’s christening. However, because of Mussolini’s fascism, Escher eventually left Italy.
Escher was affected by the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews, as his old teacher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, a Jew, was taken away and killed in 1944. For the rest of his life he kept a sketch by Mesquita which bore the markings of a German boot.
Escher later found fame in the United States and the Escher Museum holds his works in The Hague. In 1970, Escher moved to the artists’ retirement home, Rosa Pier Huis in Laren where he died in 1972 at the age of 73.