It is June 17, 1898 and Maurits Cornelis Escher is born to an engineer and the daughter of a government minister. He is the third son of the family. This boy would become one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century.

The Escher family moved around Holland, settling in Arnhem in 1903 and in Oosterbeek in 1917. The family frequently went on vacations to such places as the French Riviera and Italy. Traveling was always a hobby of M.C. Escher's.


Maurits attended secondary school in Arnhem, Holland, where he was known not as M.C., but as Mauk. In 1918, Mauk began schooling at Technical College in Delft. Escher also attended the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem. It is there that M.C. meets someone that becomes very important to him, his teacher S. Jessurun de Mesquita.


Escher met his future wife Jetta Umiker in Ravello, Spain in 1923. On June 12, 1924, they were married and later moved to Rome. M.C. and Jetta Escher had three sons, George A., Arthur E., and Jan C. After Arthur was born, the M.C. moved his family to Switzerland and then to Belgium. Two years after Jan is born, the Germans invade the Low Countries and the Eschers are forced to move again to the Netherlands in 1940. In 1941 the M.C. Escher and his family finally settle down and reside for the rest of M.C.'s life in Baarn, Holland.


The first graphic work that was completed by M.C. Escher was a linoleum cut in purple of his father in 1916. From this point, Escher had many works published, displayed, and illustrated. In 1936, Escher took a trip along the coasts of Italy and France to Spain. It is on this trip that Escher made a pivotal turn in his work. He moved from landscapes to 'mental imagery', the graphic works and tilings, otherwise known as dividing the plane.

Escher had this to say about his work on dividing the plane:

"I think I have never yet done any work with the aim of symbolizing a particular idea, but the fact that a symbol is sometimes discovered or remarked upon is valuable for me because it makes it easier to accept the inexplicable nature of my hobbies, which constantly preoccupy me."

"The regular division of the plane into congruent figures evoking an association in the observer with a familiar natural object is one of these hobbies or problems...I have embarked on this geometric problem again and again over the years, trying to throw light on different aspects each time. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if this problem had never occurred to me; one might say that I am head over heels in love with it, and I still don't know why."

Escher had this to say about his work:

"I try in my prints to testify that we live in a beautiful and orderly world, not in a chaos without norms, even though that is how it sometimes appears. My subjects are also often playful: I cannot refrain from demonstrating the nonsensicalness of some of what we take to be irrefutable certainties. It is, for example, a pleasure to deliberately mix together objects of two and three dimensions, surface and spatial relationships, and to make fun of gravity."

Escher's work and life was not without chaos. In February 1944, the Germans arrested Escher's mentor S. Jessurun de Mesquita and he is never seen again. Two years later, Escher organizes a memorial exhibition in honor of his mentor.


In 1962, just seven years after being knighted, Escher is forced to have emergency surgery. He takes along time to recover from this operation. He would have two more major operations before his death on March 27, 1972.

To view some of Escher's work, click here.