Nov 02, 2023 - Sale 2651

Sale 2651 - Lot 408

Price Realized: $ 15,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 12,000 - $ 18,000
Santa Severina, Calabria.

Lithograph, 1931. 232x310 mm; 9 1/8x12 1/4 inches, full margins. Signed and numbered 36/40 in pencil, lower left margin. A very good impression of this extremely scarce lithograph.

We have found only four other impressions at auction in the past 30 years.

Escher (1898-1972) was born in Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands, the son of a civil engineer. He was a sickly child and did poor academically, though at an early age he excelled at drawing. In 1918, he went to the Technical College of Delft. From 1919 to 1922, Escher attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts, learning drawing and the art of making woodcuts. He briefly studied architecture, but he failed a number of subjects and switched to decorative arts.

In 1922, a watershed year of his life, Escher traveled through Italy, visiting Florence, San Gimignano, Volterra, Siena and Ravello. In the same year, he traveled through Spain, visiting Madrid, Toledo and Granada. He was impressed by the Italian countryside and, in Granada, by the Moorish architecture of the fourteenth-century Alhambra palace. The intricate decorative designs of the Alhambra, based on geometrical symmetries featuring interlocking repetitive patterns in the colored tiles or sculpted into the walls and ceilings, triggered his interest in the mathematics of tessellation (tiling with a repeated pattern) and became a powerful influence on his work.

Escher returned to Italy and lived in Rome from 1923 to 1935. While in Italy, he met Jetta Umiker--a Swiss woman, like himself attracted to Italy--whom he married in 1924. The couple settled 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.

During the following decade, he traveled frequently, visiting (among other places) Viterbo in 1926, the Abruzzi in 1927 and 1929, Corsica in 1928 and 1933, Calabria in 1930, the Amalfi coast in 1931 and 1934, and Gargano and Sicily in 1932 and 1935. The townscapes and landscapes of these places feature prominently in his artworks, including the current lithograph and the proceeding six lots. In May and June 1936, Escher travelled back to Spain, revisiting the Alhambra and spending days at a time making detailed drawings of its mosaic patterns. It was here that he became fascinated, to the point of obsession, with tessellation, explaining, "It remains an extremely absorbing activity, a real mania to which I have become addicted, and from which I sometimes find it hard to tear myself away." Bool 144.