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Houses in Rome

In October 1925 the young couple Maurits and Jetta are finally able to start setting up their first home. It is the top floor of a house that is still under construction, in a new neighbourhood on the slopes of the Monteverde. The house on Via Alessandro Poerio 100 was beautifully situated with a view of the Tiber valley. On the other side of the river was the Monte Palatino, with the Roman quarter Trastevere below. The couple had already bought the house at the end of 1924, but they first had to wait until it was finished, after which it turned out to be too damp. They let it dry all summer and spent those months at the Albergo del Toro in Ravello, the place where they had met.

The house at the Via Alessandro Poerio 100 under construction, 26 December 1924

Escher at home in the Via Alessandro Poerio 100, 19 January 1926

But quite soon after they had moved into number 100, the couple came to the conclusion that the house was too small. Escher did not have his own studio and another compelling reason was Jetta’s pregnancy. Nearby, at number 94, they found another home that they bought in June 1926. However, that was not finished yet either, and it took until February 1927 before they could move in. But it was worth the wait. The Eschers—now parents to a son, George—lived from that point onwards in a beautifully situated apartment on the third floor with a private studio for Maurits upstairs. The house was called the ‘Casa dei Quatro Venti’ (the ‘House of the Four Winds’), because of the winds and the storms that beset the house from all sides**.
Jetta with George Arnold Escher, 20 April 1927, at the Via Alessandro Poerio 122. The majolica tiles, designed by Escher, can be seen in the background
From Escher's photo album: birth card for Arthur Eduard Escher with photos of Jetta and Arthur in the hospital, 14 December 1928

M.C. Escher, Hand with Reflecting Sphere (Self-Portrait in Spherical Mirror), lithograph, January 1935
Detail, with the reflected studio

Escher had designed a workbench in the spacious and bright studio, as well as the dining room furniture and a few dressers. He had them made by an Italian furniture maker. One of his children later recalled that the pieces of furniture were ‘heavy, darkly painted objects’ that had been transported with every move. The studio is shown on Hand with Reflecting Sphere along with the work cabinet for prints, the hard couch with bedspread and cushions to prop up against the wall, a large leather armchair with extendable footrest and bookshelves above.
From Escher's photo album: Via Alessandro Poerio 122, May 1931
Via Alessandro Poerio 122, end of May 1931

Via Alessandro Poerio 122, end of May 1931 (the number was changed to 122 *)
Via Alessandro Poerio 122, end of May 1931

Escher and Jetta had furnished the house together. In the living room hung a kakemono. A Japanese vertical scroll painting, which his father had given him. On the dresser stood a samovar, a watercooker given to the couple BY Escher’s parents at their wedding. The floors were fitted with majolica tiles featuring a pattern that Escher had designed himself. A reminder of Escher’s travels through Tuscany was standing in his studio: a statue of St Bernardinus, the saint from Siena. For him to work as efficiently as possible, the couple had devised a special communication system—between the living room and the studio above there was a tube that was closed on both sides with a flute. To call Escher for the food, Jetta pulled out the flute and blew it hard. Escher then removed the flute on his side and spoke with his wife through the tube. Usually he did not come down immediately when he was working. He continued working on his carving or drawing and Jetta had to wait with the food***.

*: the number of the house was changed from 94 to 122 around 1929. If Escher talks about 94 and 122, he is referring to the same house.
[**] and [***]: Wim Hazeu, M.C. Escher, Een biografie, Meulenhoff, 1998, page 122

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