The Palace isn’t the only place in The Hague where Escher’s work can be seen. You can find out more about him in a few places around the city. On building façades, in schools or in places where he drew inspiration. So grab your bike (or a museum bike), jump on a tram or go on foot and find out more about Escher in The Hague.
Each number refers to several locations. Click on the number to see them.
A large-scale picture of the lithograph Phosphorescent Sea is visible on a pavement on the boulevard. Escher must have been standing somewhere there when he came to marvel at the sea sparkle phenomenon.
The Escher family in Scheveningen
The holiday period is a time of relaxation, pleasure and enjoyment. So it was for Escher too. He would virtually never work during the summer months. He would head off to Switzerland, France or Italy with his family, go on holiday with Jetta or with one of his sons, or go on sea voyages with his wife or friends. Or he would go to the Netherlands. As is the case in this photo, which shows the young family relaxing on the beach at Scheveningen in the summer of 1931.
Zonnebloem art dealer
First Dutch exhibition, 1924
Escher got his first exhibition in the Netherlands at Zonnebloem art dealer’s in February 1924. He was exhibiting his work along with the well-known architect Karel de Bazel, whose glasswork was on display at the exhibition. De Bazel suddenly passed away shortly before the opening, and because Escher was in Italy at that point in time, the exhibition was opened without either of the two artists present. The reviews were positive. For example, the Amsterdamse Handelsblad wrote:
‘A few drawings and woodcuts from Italy wondrously and skilfully evoke that nation’s eternal dream. Here we have an artist at work who has allowed himself to meditatively absorb the beauty of the mountains and cities, and then express something of them with great restraint. The fairy tale has come true. I’m thinking about the magnificent San Gimignano woodcut. The high towers standing proud alongside one another on the hill like a vision of a divine city against the night sky.’
Liernur art dealer
For his exhibition at Liernur art dealer’s in The Hague, Escher produced the invitation card himself in September 1931. The card was his first wood engraving, a technique that enabled him to introduce more detail than was possible with woodcuts. Much needed in this case, as text and image had to be added to the card, which was just 9 x 12 cm. He used the St Marcus lion on Ravello’s town square as a motif. He had visited the lion several times, and would go on to depict it again, in a lithograph. Het Vaderland wrote the following about it:
‘A deftly cut lion, with an archaic allure, invites us to go and see this exhibition; and anyone taking up this invitation will not be disappointed.’
Factory Anton Escher
Logo and letterhead
2e van der Kunststraat 10-14
In September 1935 Escher produced a woodcut for his nephew, Anton Escher. He was the founder and managing director of Ir. Escher’s Constructiewerkplaatsen en Machinefabriek N.V. Founded in 1925, the company would expand to become a major metalwork business with the largest production hall in The Hague during the 1950s.
The factory started using electric welding in 1930. Escher used the welding equipment and distinctive welding helmet for the purposes of the woodcut which needed to serve as the logo for his nephew’s printed material. His nephew was delighted with the result and paid him 60 guilders.
Escher would occasionally take on a commercial assignment too. This would see him designing letter paper, a logo, a New Year’s card, wrapping paper or a wall decoration in return for money. For example, he was commissioned by the Chinese consul to produce a logo for a Chinese-Indonesian restaurant during the war, in 1944. The restaurant no longer exists, but fortunately we do still have the design.
Escher designed some magnificent tiled pillars with regular tessellations for two schools, namely for a Girls School in The Hague in 1959 and for Baarnsch Lyceum in 1969. The name of the in Girls School was changed in 1968 to the Johanna Westermanschool. In 2013 the pillars were relocated to Maris College. Its currently the summer holidays, so unfortunately it’s not possible to go and see the actual pillars themselves. Why not give it a try after summer? They’re truly special.
Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum
Van Stolkweg 35
In 1959, M.C. Escher was commissioned to produce a tile tableau on the façade of the Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum (VCL) at Van Stolkweg 35. Escher consulted with the building’s architect, H. V. Gerretsen, on his design featuring flying horses. These were ultimately rendered in concrete. The building on Van Stolkweg is now being demolished and the tile tableau has been put into safe storage. The VCL currently occupies temporary premises, but in due course will be moving to a new building, which will also be on Van Stolkweg. The tile tableau will then be reinstalled.
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
The room of the then Secretary General Huib Patijn contains a ceiling painting depicting birds and fish. This is a 1962 design by Escher. The work was executed on vellum, which is secured to the ceiling. Unfortunately the room isn’t open to the public.
Sewage treatment plant
A façade relief designed by Escher can be seen on the Delfluent building on Houtrustweg. Entitled Birds and Fish, it was installed on the façade in 1990 to commemorate the official reopening of this sewage treatment plant in November 1990. It measures 10 m in length and weighs 4,500 kg. The relief was based on a design Escher produced in 1941.
Metamorphosis III on linnen
I’m thinking about a very attractive commission which the Post Office might offer me.
This writes Escher in June 1967 to his oldest son George in Canada. The question was if he could expand his 4-meter long Metamorphosis II (1939-1940) with another 3 meters. For the new post office in The Hague this new 7-meter long Metamorphosis III would be blown up to 48 meters and painted on linnen. Not by Escher but by an apprentice painter. Escher would regularly check the proceedings though. The enormous painting was officially revealed on 20 February 1969. For the 48 meter version you have to go to Schiphol Airport, where it was moved to in January 2008.
Retrospective exhibition, 1968
Hence Escher’s first exhibition in the Netherlands was as far back as 1924, but it would be 1968 before a first retrospective exhibition was held in the Gemeentemuseum (‘Municipal Museum’) in The Hague. Escher turned 70 that year, so it was about time. But the outcome was a welcome one. The opening on 7 June 1968 was a resounding success. The auditorium was packed and in excess of 100 people who couldn’t get in were stood in the hall outside. Escher was honoured with speeches and gave a short lecture himself with the aid of some slides. The exhibition attracted tens of thousands of visitors and the catalogue soon had to be reprinted. The hordes of Dutch and foreign journalists were extremely positive and Escher was lavished with praise in the newspapers.
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Thanks for participating in our Summer Quest. We hope you enjoyed it and even learned something 🙂
Do you want to know more about Maurits Cornelis Escher? Check our website regularly. Each week we publish an article with interesting facts or anecdotes about his life.