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Sale: 345 / Modern Art / Post War, June 04./05. 2008  
Lot: 201  
Escher, Maurits Cornelis 
Metamorphose II, 1939. 
Result (incl. 20% surcharge): 108,000 EUR / 141,480 $
Estimate: 90,000 EUR / 117,900 $  
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Mauritz Cornelius Escher


print
Maurits Cornelis Escher - Metamorphose II  
print

Metamorphose II. 1939/40.
Woodcut in colours.
Bool/Locher/Wierda 320 I-VI. Signed and inscribed "eigen druk". Monogrammed, dated "XI'39-III'40" and inscribed in the plate. On fine Japon. 19,2 : 387,6 cm (7,5 : 152,5 in). Sheet: 27,7 x 397,7 cm (10,9 x 156,5 in). Born in Leeuwarden on 17 June 1898, Maurits Cornelis Escher was the son of a Dutch civil engineer. While Escher was still at secondary school, his drawing teacher, F.W. van der Haagen, became aware of the boy’s talent and instructed him in linocutting. In 1918 Escher began studying architecture at Delft Polytechnic but illness forced him to drop out. Escher then decided to go to Haarlem to take drawing lessons there. From S. Jessurun de Mesquita, Escher learned drawing from nature and studied the graphic arts, particularly woodcut printmaking. In 1922 Escher began to travel extensively for study purposes, going to Italy and Spain. He was particularly taken with the Moorish decoration of the Alhambra at Granada, which left a lasting impression on him. In Italy Escher made the acquaintance of Jetta Umiker, whom he married in 1924. The couple settled near Rome. In the meantime, the young artist was making a name for himself with numerous exhibitions of his work in the Netherlands. By 1929, Escher had shown work – most of it at solo shows – in five cities. Fleeing Fascism, the Eschers moved to Château-d’Oex in Switzerland. A year after they moved, Escher visited the Alhambra a second time. This second look at the decoration made Escher decide to change his style. He abandoned Mediterranean landscapes for surface-filling geometric patterns: the “Metamorphoses”.

“From November 1939 until March 1940, Escher worked on ‘Metamorphosis II’, a woodcut four metres long and a high point of his graphic œuvre, in which a series of regular surface-filling motifs via metamorphses and various thought associations represent a continuous pictorial narrative, becoming a recollection of Italy (View of Atrani) and of Châtreau-d’Œx (the chessboard) and ending with the same motif that represents the ‘beginning’ of the metamorphoses. A perfect cycle is thus evoked” (Bool/Locher/Wierda, Leben und Werk M. C. Escher, Eltville on the Rhine 1986, p. 57).

Fascinated by the richness of nuances elicited in mezzotint, Escher learned this technique in 1946 and from then on devoted himself increasingly to perspective pictures, which fascinate viewers with optical illusions and impossible figurations. In 1962 the artist’s health began to deteriorate and in 1970 he had to move into the Rosa-Spier Foundation House in Laren, a retirement home for artists. Escher died there, surrounded by his close family, on 27 March 1972. [ME]

Woodcut in black, green and brown, printed from twenty blocks on five sheets, glued together (differing from Bool/Locher/Wierda, which calls for three sheets)
In good condition. Edges partly minimally discoloured and irregularly trimmed respectively. Minor pressure mark along the upper edge, probably due to the studio work as well as negligible, pale colour on the lower left margin. Isolated tiny brown stains and negligible traces of rubbing respectively. Attachment spots partially with minor traces of glue due to the studio work.

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