After having travelled along the Italian coast on the freighter Rossini by himself, Escher’s wife Jetta joins him on 11 May 1936. They spend a day in Genoa, visit Pisa (a visit that is recalled in his print Leaning Tower), and on 13 May they travel on to Savona. Because the ship isn’t going to stay long, Escher doesn’t disembark. He takes a photo of a sailing boat that he sees through the porthole of his cabin.
He also starts on a drawing from the same point of view. He describes this moment in his travel journal:
‘Since there was no time for a drawing in the city (we would leave at 11 am) I stayed on board and started a sketch of the porthole in our cabin.’
Escher will not finish the drawing before 21 June. By that time he is sailing on the Paganini, a ship that returns him and his wife from Spain to Italy. Escher likes the porthole of this ship better and he incorporates it into the drawing. The boat, too, undergoes a change: Escher turns it round and puts an extra sail on it. The following winter, when he creates a woodcut of the same subject, Escher again changes the sailing boat: it now became a freighter.