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Exhibition in the Dutch Historical Institute, 1934

On 12 December 1934, the Dutch Historical Institute in Rome hosted the opening of an exhibition with paintings and drawings by Otto B. Kat (a personal friend of Maurits) and woodcuts and lithographs by M.C. Escher. Despite the rainy conditions, interest in the opening was huge. Fascism’s grip on Italian society was growing stronger by the day and this exhibition seemed to be used by many as counterbalance. World leaders as well as religious authorities were present, as were several directors of foreign institutions, museum directors, artists and critics*.

Dutch media devoted ample attention to it, resulting in publications in newspapers De Telegraaf, De Tijd, De Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant and the Algemeen Handelsblad. All Dutch newspapers used reproductions of Escher in their pages.

The Italian Osservatore Romano dedicated a long article to the exhibition with a two-column reproduction of the wood engraving Nocturnal Rome: Small Churches, Piazza Venezia. Escher created this wood engraving in March 1934. A month later Mussolini would address a large crowd here, from the balcony at the Palazzo Venezia.

[*] Wim Hazeu, M.C. Escher, Een biografie, Meulenhoff, 1998, page 170

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