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Escher by the Seaside

Summer! Time to enjoy the sun and to laze around on the beach. At Escher in The Palace we are full of summer cheer. During the holiday period we will be showing how Escher spent his holidays. For the first time ever photos of his beach holidays will be on display, along with beach fashion from the start of the previous century. As the icing on the cake we will be giving you the opportunity to get your photo taken in old-fashioned beachwear; this summer we are The Palace by the seaside.

Fresh, salty sea air. Feeling the wind in your hair and the heat of the sun on your skin. A trip to the seaside is refreshing, relaxing and washes all your cares away. Nowadays, we primarily consider a trip to the seaside to be a recreational activity, but in the 19th century it was also regarded as therapeutic. Bathing resorts such as Zandvoort, Katwijk and Scheveningen in particular surged in popularity. Not only did the elite enjoy the salty sea air, but they also believed in its therapeutic effects. Splashing around in the sea, in appropriate clothing, was advised for the system.

Sea air in Zandvoort

At an early age Escher had to head to the sea to improve his health. He was underweight and had all manner of childhood illnesses. Which is why he had to visit the children’s guest house Villa Groot Kijkduin in Zandvoort. He slept in dormitories with children from across the nation and, health permitting, he would attend the village school, where he was badly bullied. It was a nightmare for him. Portrait photographer Anthonie Bakels took this photo of Escher and his fellow guest house residents in Zandvoort. Escher is the in the bottom row, second to the left. His face speaks volumes.

Fortunately, his stays in spa resorts did leave him with something positive: an intense love of the sea (I wrote about this already in Yearning for the sea). He takes his fiancée Jetta to the seaside, the photographs prior to their wedding are taken there, and he heads for the coast with his family later on too. Even to Zandvoort, where he stayed as a boy.

 

Strolling in style

These photos were on display in Escher in The Palace during the summer of 2016. They put a face to the big name. As you will see, he was a chic gentleman who even on the beach was attired in a stylish suit. And his wife had good sense of style too.

From snapshot to selfie

Photos from the family archive are complemented by stylish beach fashion of the same period. The 1920s and 1930s, a time of bathing machines and elegant strolls along promenades. A time in which the snapshot was on the rise too. Stiffly posed photographs taken in studios were superseded by photos people took themselves. The advent of handy, affordable cameras made it possible for anyone to be a photographer. And what did they capture? Those moments of happiness on the beach. Just like people do nowadays. Little has changed in that respect.

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