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Liberation print 1955

Early 1955 Escher worked on an assignment for a liberation print to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the liberation on 5 May that year. In a 22 January letter to his son Arthur, he describes his mixed feelings about the assignment*:

‘This week I just managed to work a few days in succession on a new print I have had on my mind for months [he refers to Convex and Concave, which he would finish in March, EK], when yet another spanner was put in the works. This time it was a sort of commission to do a print for the Liberation, in view of the imminent celebration of its tenth anniversary in May. You can hardly call it a “commission” – if I accept it, the only decent thing would be to do it free of charge. My main concern is whether it will take up too much time, for I am simply not capable of working quickly. There might be an enormous number printed – the plans have not yet been finalised – with free distribution to schoolchildren for example; so I must certainly watch my step and not “knock up” a print, just like that. I have a month to think it over, so I can still back out, but I am afraid I shall have to do it.’

Like he did with so many prints, he used a drawing he created many years before as a starting point. In this case, it was drawing no. 71, from April 1948. Earlier, he used the same drawing for another print, the woodcut Sun and Moon. This print also originates from April 1948, suggesting a stronger connection with the drawing than was the case with Liberation.

In the end, Liberation was not mass-produced. Escher did not finish it in time and his chosen format proved not very suitable, suggesting Escher’s reluctance to work on this idea. It nevertheless resulted in a beautiful lithograph.

[*] M.C. Escher, His Life and Complete Graphic Work, edited by J.L. Locher, Abradale Press, 1982, page 81

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