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First lithograph and Schaffhausen

Between 1927 and 1938 the Escher family spent almost every summer in the Swiss town of Steckborn, with Jetta’s sister Nina and her husband Oskar Schibler. In 1929 they even stayed for several months, from July to mid-October. In spring Escher had already made a trip to the Italian Abruzzo region, together with his friend Giuseppe Haas-Triverio. The tour produced 28 drawings, one of which he developed into a lithograph in Steckborn, his first of an Italian landscape.

He decides to refresh his knowledge of lithography technique with his former teacher at art school: Dieperink. In his agenda he notes his questions:

1st. Can one reprint the drawing with carbon paper on the blackened stone?
2nd. Is a greasy hand on the black bad?
3rd. How does one prepare the stone (pumice? water?)
4th. How does one prepare the tusche [stone ink, EK]
5th. Can one draw on lithografic papier instead of the stone?
6th. Buy:
lithografic chalk.
tusche
scratch knife
pumice

The development of the lithograph is followed step-by-step by father Escher. On 14 July he writes in his diary:

Mauk has smeared a lithographic stone with tusche and water, with brushes from my color box. This stone is too small to reproduce the sketches that he makes in the Abruzzi, on the same scale. He therefore made from one of these sketches (Goriano, Siccoli) a reduced drawing with the help of a square system.

On 18 July:

M. traces his reduced sketch with white printing paper onto his black rubbed stone. Then he starts working out the drawing with a small pocket knife by scratching out hatching.

On 20 July:

M has risen early, has breakfast alone and is diligently working on his lithographic stone in the bathroom.

On 22 July:

Around 11 o’clock Mauk shows me his finished drawing on the stone. It seems very successful to both of us.

On 25 July:

M back from Amsterdam with an very successful print of his stone-drawn mountain town in the Abruzzo, made in the workshops of Mr. Dieperink by a more than 60-year-old stone printer, who is particularly adept in all kinds of lithography, of which the process followed by Mauk rarely occurs.

In addition to working on lithography and relaxation with his family, in those months, together with Jetta, he makes a number of trips from Steckborn to the famous waterfalls in Schaffhausen.
On this page from one of his photo albums the couple can be seen together in Schaffhausen, on 9 September 1929.

Escher photo album, Rhine Falls Schaffhausen 9-9-'29

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