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Escher’s beard

The first Saturday of September is World Beard Day. Naturally we commemorate the occasion through M.C. Escher, a fanatic beard-wearer. One might even suggest he was a hipster well before the term was even invented. He was in his early twenties when his distinctive look started to take shape. He was a tall, skinny man with a big nose, somewhat unkempt hair and was always in a suit. He topped this off with a pointy beard that made his appearance even more refined.

Maurits Cornelis Escher in 1920. He is 22 and still clean shaven.
M.C. Escher, Self-portrait, linoleum cut, 1919
M.C. Escher in August 1923. That summer he fell in love with Jetta and got his first solo exhibition.
M.C. Escher, Self-portrait, woodcut, November 1923.

The point at which Escher stopped shaving is clear. On 31 March 1923 he noted in his diary:

‘today, beard is shaved for the last time.’

He is almost 25 and from that point on the beard was a permanent part of his look. To mark this development, he produced a self-portrait in which the beard features prominently. 1923 is the year of his first solo exhibition and the year that he falls in love with Jetta Umiker. It proves to be a requited love. The beard was, as it is nowadays, a statement. It was his way of announcing: I am a man now. I am engaged, happily in love and a master of my technique. The young artist had come of age.

Rheinfall Schaffhausen, 9 September 1929
M.C. Escher, Self-portrait, lithograph, November 1929
Escher in the 50s
Escher during the festive evening on which he received the cultural prize of Hilversum, 5 March 1965

More Escher today