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Tournai Cathedral

From the works that are on view now, following the most recent change, we choose a second one: a woodcut from August 1934 depicting the cathedral at Tournai, Belgium. The Escher family (still living in Rome) spent that summer on the West-Flemish coast. Together with his brother Eddy and sister-in-law Irma, Escher had rented a house in the village of Sint-Idesbald. Sheltered by dunes, it was also a place where the Dutch writer Willem Elschot (1882-1960) used to spend his summer holidays and Sundays. This holiday proved to be a precursor to a longer stay in Belgium. After two years in Switzerland the family would move to Uccle (Brussels) in the summer of 1937.

During their 1934 holiday Escher and Jetta visited Ghent, Bruges and Tournai. Escher would use the cathedrals at Ghent and Tournai that same summer as a subject for two new woodcuts. The one at Tournai dominates the skyline of the city in his woodcut. The distinctive five Roman towers loom above the surrounding buildings. The work proved to be of historic significance: in it the city, which was founded by the Romans, is still untouched. In May 1940 German bombardments would destroy many of the old buildings.

Tournai Cathedral (detail)
Tournai Cathedral (detail)

Tournai Cathedral (detail)
Tournai Cathedral (detail)

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