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Graphic Grandeur: Escher and his Contemporaries

17 February to 16 May 2021

The greatest graphic art by Escher and his contemporaries

The most famous printmaker in the Netherlands is without a doubt M.C. Escher. His graphic art depicting optical illusions has earned him a unique place in both national and international art history. But he was not the only Dutch printmaker of importance in his time. The exhibition Graphic Grandeur: Escher and his Contemporaries at Escher in The Palace highlights the graphic art of Escher’s Dutch contemporaries. In collaboration with Kunstmuseum The Hague, the exhibition shows the versatility of Dutch graphic art through prints made by Escher’s friends, acquaintances and mentors. Also on display are the works of other artists who lent colour to the time when Escher was developing into a major printmaker.

Jacoba van Heemskerck, Old man, lithograph, 1906-1907. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague
Julie de Graag, Dog’s head, woodcut, 1920. Collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Graphic art is a form of art that combines creativity, craftsmanship and tradition with technical challenges. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, printmaking was very popular in the Netherlands. Graphic art was alive and well. The works were often produced in editions, introducing the art to a broader audience. This made graphic art popular, also among artists who were best known for other art disciplines. Famous names like H.W. Mesdag and Jozef Israëls, for example, also produced lithographs and etchings alongside their paintings. M.C. Escher enjoyed the company of artists who truly embraced the discipline, such as his mentors Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita and Richard Roland Holst, as well as friends like Gerd Arntz and Paul Citroen.

Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch, Landscape with setting sun, lithograph, 1867. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague
Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Looming storm above the beach, lithograph, undated. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague
Richard Roland Holst, Design for portrait in stained glass, lithograph, 1916. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague
Matthijs Maris, Head of a girl with veil, etching, approx. 1883-1888. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague

From landscapes to portraits and from buildings to geometric shapes, Graphic Grandeur brings together the work of 43 merciless printmakers with the work of M.C. Escher from 17 February to 16 May 2021. Prints by such artists as Piet Mondriaan, Matthijs Maris, Jan Mankes, Isaac Israëls, Jan Toorop, Jacoba van Heemskerck, H.N. Werkman and César Domela offer a cross-section of Dutch graphic art at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. The graphic art of Escher’s contemporaries features primarily the same themes as addressed by Escher, often with a surprisingly different end result. Discover the versatility of graphic art this spring at Escher in The Palace.

Gerd Arntz, Top-end, linoleum cut, 1968. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague
Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, Horned Owl, woodcut, 1915. Collection Kunstmuseum The Hague