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The Escher exhibition

In 2023, it is 125 years since M.C. Escher (1898-1972) was born. Escher in The Palace celebrates this with a special anniversary exhibition on Escher and his teacher and close friend Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita. This exhibition complements the permanent exhibition with the best-known works from Escher’s oeuvre. The museum houses more than 125 works by Escher and 70 prints and drawings by Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita. These magnificent prints are being exhibited in a regal setting: the former winter palace of Queen Mother Emma.

Discover the artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, a man who never lost his fascination with the wonderful world around him. The Netherlands’ most famous printmaker enthrals people young and old with his imaginative worlds in which illusion and amazement are put centre stage.

Escher’s development as an artist is a key focus in the museum. His early work consists of detailed woodcuts of people and unrivalled depictions of nature and landscapes, in which he explores his talent. In his later work he develops his revolutionary tessellations, metamorphoses and optical illusions. His playful prints delight the eye and have been a rich source of inspiration for mathematicians, film-makers and architects throughout the world for many years.

M.C. Escher, Print Gallery, lithograph, May 1956
M.C. Escher, Relativity, woodcut, July 1953

Learn about Escher’s life and work in our film room, discover how he went about creating his extraordinary graphic work and delve deep into his history through photos and an interactive timeline.

The master, the king, the magician

Admire Escher’s masterpieces which are the crowning glory of his impressive oeuvre. Consider in this regard an early highlight like Day and Night (1938), in which he transforms a rural Dutch landscape into flying birds. Or the timeless print Relativity (1953), in which he defies gravity and multiple realities seem to coexist. And, of course, the jewel in the crown: the seven-metre-long Metamorphosis III (1967-1968), which represents the ultimate interpretation of his key themes: eternity and infinity. Discover Escher as a master of the metamorphosis, the king of illusion and a magician on paper.

The Man Who Discovered Escher: Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita

Escher in The Palace – until 1 October 2023

Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita is known as the man who discovered Maurits Cornelis Escher. The talented artist and printmaker also taught graphic techniques at the School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. When Escher enrolled there as an architecture student, De Mesquita happened to see some of his graphic work. He was so impressed that he persuaded Escher to switch courses. Escher went on to become a master of printmaking, and the two developed a lifelong artistic and personal connection. Their artistic preferences partially coincided, but De Mesquita had his own very distinctive style, reducing his images of people and animals to the essence, and rendering his subjects in just a few powerful lines. In other images his style is less restrained. These imagined scenes are often humorous, though some are ominous. After De Mesquita’s death in Auschwitz in 1944, Escher continued to honour the memory of his teacher and friend. In this exhibition Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita’s poignant prints are shown alongside those of his most famous student.

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Experience the world of Escher

On the second floor you will learn to see like Escher did, in the interactive exhibition ‘Through Escher’s Eyes’. Puzzle with your eyes, discover with your hands and become part of Escher’s perception. Immerse yourself in his illusion and become giant or tiny in just a few seconds. Get even closer to Escher by making your own tessellation or playing with impossible figures.

Our Op-art room tests the bounds of credibility: the artworks seem to be moving… and yet it is your own movement that is creating this illusion. In the remarkable installation Langenfelder Lichtwand for Escher in The Palace by German Zero-group artist Otto Piene, you will become part of a spectacle caused by the continuously moving light. An unforgettable experience.

Visiting a Royal Palace

Queen Mother Emma (1858-1934) lived and worked in this former palace from 1901 until she passed away. She also received her official guests and family here. After her death the palace was used by Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. Over two centuries old, the palace is situated in historic The Hague’s museum quarter on Lange Voorhout, one of the most beautiful avenues in the Netherlands. It is the only public building in The Hague where you can still experience the royal palace atmosphere.

Furthermore, the palace features a unique parquet floor by the American minimal artist Donald Judd and is lit by the spectacular chandeliers by Hans van Bentem.

Hans van Bentem's chandelier in the central staircase
The parquet floor in room 9. Photo: Isabel Nabuurs

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