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San Gimignano 1923

In the months of April to June 1922, Escher makes a trip to Italy, followed by a journey to Spain by cargo boat in the autumn. His hunger for travel remains yet unsatisfied, and in November he visits Italy for a second time. First Genoa and Pisa and on 15 November he is back in Siena. He is delighted by the light blue sky over the hills of Tuscany. He is happy.

On 18 January 1923 he writes in his diary:

‘rarely, if ever, have I felt calmer, more pleased, more content than in recent times’.

However, he did have sexual problems:

‘mainly because of the abundant presence of the fair female sex in town’.

As a ‘cure’ he went to San Gimignano for a few days, but it was not much better *.

‘I was the only stranger, surrounded by a large crowd of inquisitive young ladies.’

It must have been a peculiar sight. The tall, well-dressed and bearded young man from the distant north, surrounded by all these Italian village girls. Yet, it didn’t affect his work: that same month he created this wonderful woodcut of San Gimignano. In this print, the tall, steep towers of the town, once built to display the wealth and power of their owners, take on an austere appearance in the stark moonlight.


[*] M.C. Escher, His Life and Complete Graphic Work, edited by J.L. Locher, Abradale Press, 1982, page 24

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