‘I am thinking about a very attractive commission which the Post Office might offer me.’
Escher writes these words to his eldest son George in Canada in June 1967*. The question was whether he could expand his four-metre long Metamorphosis II (1939-1940) by another three metres. For the new post office in The Hague this new seven-metre-long Metamorphosis III would be expanded to 48 metres and painted on linen. Not by Escher but by an apprentice painter, the nineteen-year-old Huug Vooys from Katwijk. Escher would regularly check the proceedings though to ensure progress was being made. The enormous painting was officially unveiled on 20 February 1969.
The photo of Escher’s wife Jetta at the Italian town Atrani, which is the starting point of all Metamorphoses, can be seen in our permanent Escher exhibition. Metamorphosis I (1937), Metamorphosis II (1939-1940) and Metamorphosis III (1967-1968) can also be seen here.
For the 48-metre version you will have to go to Schiphol Airport, to where it was moved in January 2008. A short documentary about this process has been made.
[*] M.C. Escher, His Life and Complete Graphic Work, edited by J.L. Locher, Abradale Press, 1982, page 131