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Citadel of Calvi

Escher visited the desolate island of Corsica several times. He was fascinated by the rock formations, the dizzying elevations, the mountain ranges, chasms, rivers, bays and coastline. He did many drawings and took many photos and his travels gave rise to a series of woodcuts, wood engravings and lithographs.

He was specifically enamoured with the north-eastern town of Calvi and its massive citadel. This Genoese stronghold from the 15th century is situated on a rock on a headland and dominates the harbour and boulevard of the city. Escher produced several works based on the citadel. The first of these is this woodcut, which he created after visiting Corsica together with his father-in-law, Arturo Umiker, in 1928. Jetta stayed at home. She was pregnant with their second child.

The gentlemen arrived in the port city of Bastia on 24 May, after which they made a tour of the island for several weeks. They visited Saint-Florent, Nonza, Albo, Pino, Luri, Corte, Vizzavona, Vivario, Bonifacio, Sartena, Ajaccio, Bastelica, Piana, Ota, Evisa and Soveri. For each of these place names there is a sketch, some of which were subsequently developed into a print. In 1933 he made another round trip, resulting in two more prints of the citadel and prints of the Calanques de Piana and the medieval town of Nonza.

M.C. Escher, Corte, Corsica, woodcut in grey and black, printed from two blocks, January 1929
M.C. Escher, Bonifacio, woodcut, October 1929

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