Miscellany 21-44

[21] TAPESTRY
1950
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 292 and Life and Work, page 75.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, pages 30, 272 and 292 and Life and Work, pages 67 and 74.
Based upon: Drawing 29 [Bird/Fish], December 1939.

As the tapestry simply repeats the design drawing, further comment is superfluous, as the same comments apply. The Gemeentemuseum in Arnhem later acquired the tapestry in 1951.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[22] DESIGN DRAWING OF BUTTERFLIES
C. 1950
Watercolour, diameter 627 mm (scale 1:12.5) unexecuted.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 305 and Art and Science, page 211-220.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 305 and Life and Work, page 76.
Based on: Drawing 79 [Three-colour butterfly], October 1950.

Although Escher did not definitively state the purpose of this drawing, this was almost certainly undertaken because of the Phillips Company commission (above). This can be surmised due to two factors:
(i) to the scale that Escher had noted (that would result in a finished work of 30 feet)
(ii) it has the same black background to the motifs, as with the chosen design, a feature that does not appear elsewhere.
    This composition is of a more complex nature, based upon the hyperbolic plane, with Escher using drawing 79 for the ‘inverted’ circle limit principle. In contrast to those prints, the butterfly motifs reduce in size towards the centre rather than the boundary. A most pleasing aspect of this is the care Escher took in composing the colouring scheme, which thus gives the impression of a series of coloured circles.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[23] DESIGN DRAWING OF A BEE
June 1951
Commission for banknote design, 1950 (unexecuted).
India Ink
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 288.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 288.
Based on: Drawing 12 [(Butterfly], Winter 1937-1938.
Concept drawings: Magic, pages 72-73 and Visions of Symmetry, page 288.

This drawing arose as a result of a commission from the De Nederlandsche Bank (above), of which Escher returned to a previous drawing and essentially composed a variation of the motif, a butterfly, transforming this into what he terms as a ‘bee’. However, this description is somewhat fanciful, as the outline remains of a butterfly, with the only bee-like aspect the veining of the wings. Indeed, without foreknowledge that this is to be regarded as a bee the description is barely applicable. Furthermore, the motifs, due to the veining of the wings, in a stylised, emphatic manner, are not readily discernable, of which in normal circumstances would be a detriment. However, in this case, such obfuscation seems to have been purposeful, presumably for the purpose of the bank note, to counteract attempts at forgery.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[24] DESIGN DRAWING FOR CEILING
1951
Design for ceiling of Demonstration Laboratory, Phillips Company, Eindhoven
Pencil, watercolour and india ink.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 270 and Life and Work, page 67.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 270 and Life and Work, page 78.
Based on: Drawing 81 [Bat/Bird/Bee/Butterfly], December 1950.

Escher received a commission from the Phillips company at Eindhoven (above) at the end of 1950 to form part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the company, to take place in May 1951. For this, he had to compose a suitable composition of a theme on light effects, to be shown on the ceiling. This took the form of illuminated backlit panels (which can be seen marked on the design drawing, page 78) for a glowing effect of motifs with a natural affinity of ‘above’, in which the birds, bats, butterflies and bees thus personify.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[25] CEILING
1951
Ceiling of Demonstration Laboratory, Phillips Company, Eindhoven
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 270 and Life and Work, page 67.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 270, Life and Work, page 78.
Based upon: Drawing 81 [Bat/Bird/Bee/Butterfly], December 1950.

Regrettably, no picture of the ceiling design in situ has yet been published. Presumably, it echoes the design drawing, thus rendering further comment superfluous.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[26] REGULAR DODECAHEDRON WITH TURTLES
1952
Cardboard construction, with pencil, coloured pencil, ink, diameter 87 mm.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 245-246.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 246.
Based on: Not known.

As detailed above, Escher made a brief foray in the application of his designs on polyhedra, first covering a regular dodecahedron with a turtle-like motif. This was probably designed specifically for the dodecahedron, as the faces of the regular dodecahedron (regular pentagons) do not tessellate, as therefore there can be no numbered drawing of the motif. Aesthetically, Escher was dissatisfied with this effort, as the motif, spread out over two pentagons, is consequently not readily visible, and furthermore is not of his best in terms of its inherent quality.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[27] RHOMBIC DODECAHEDRON WITH LIZARD/FISH/ BAT
1952
Cardboard construction with pencil, coloured pencil and ink, diameter 100 mm
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 246.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 246 and Kaleidocycles, page 16 (monochrome).
Based on: Drawing 85 [Lizard/Fish/Bat], April 1952.

A second polyhedra, of a rhombic dodecahedron, uses a minor variation of the rhombuses of drawing 85 to accommodate the slightly different proportions of the faces of the rhombic dodecahedron. In contrast to the first effort, this is aesthetically much better in a number of ways. Firstly, being based upon the three elements air, water and earth, it is thus of a consistent, themed grouping of motifs. Secondly, each motif can be seen more or less in its entirety, with one motif on each face. Thirdly, the number of motifs, three, is a divisor of the number of faces of the rhombic dodecahedron, twelve, and so a ‘balanced’ aesthetic arrangement of four motifs that meet ‘head to head’ and ‘tail to tail’ around the rhombic dodecahedron thus arises.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[28] DESIGNS FOR DAMASK TABLE CLOTHS, NAPKINS AND FINGER TOWELS
1954
Design for Damask table linen manufactured by E. J. F. Dissel & Zonen, Eindhoven
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, pages 272, 278 and 307-308.
Concept drawing: Visions of Symmetry, page 308
Based on: Drawings 88 [Seahorse], end of 1952, Tablecloth; 13 [Dragonfly], winter 1937-1938 and 89 [Fish], September 1953.

Regrettably, research is hindered for reasons as set out in detail (above). Indeed, as only a concept sketch has been published, an in-depth discussion is not feasible. Furthermore, due to its nature, quite what is being portrayed is obscure, with sketches within sketches, and so consequently, a discussion is at present impractical. Below I simply state the background.
    Upon receiving a commission from the Van Dissel company of Eindhoven in 1954, Escher composed a design suitable for the above table ware. Regrettably, the material has still to be published, and therefore pending this further comment is superfluous.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[29] DESIGN DRAWING FOR MURAL FOR CEMETERY (1) circular
1958
Third public cemetery, Utrecht
Watercolour and Gouache, diameter 170 mm (scale 1:20).
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 322.
Discussed in: Magic Mirror, page 108 and Life and Work, pages 89-90.
Concept drawing: Magic Mirror, page 108.
Based on: Not known.

The first two design drawings arising from the city of Utrecht commission (above, chap. *). Escher received a commission for the aula of the third municipal cemetery in late 1957.
    Regrettably, very little detail of this has been published (detailed above), and so consequently research is thus hindered. Indeed, only a solitary picture has been published of the design drawing. However, this does at least allow an assessment as to its merits, from which a concept of reincarnation, with birth, life and death portrayed by fishes in an everlasting cycle is evident.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[30] AULA
1958
Third public cemetery, Utrecht, painted directly onto a wall
Pictured in: Magic Mirror, page 59.
Discussed in: Magic Mirror, page 108 and Life and Work, pages 89-90.
Concept drawing: Magic Mirror, page 108.
Based on: Not known.

Although not shown entirely satisfactory, as the picture shows only a part of the composition, it nonetheless remains of value as it depicts Escher at work on the finished design, this taking place in situ. For this, he used fish motifs to show an appropriate concept for the cemetery, symbolising birth, life and death with a series of fish reducing in size in spiral form, of which he undertook the task of this himself. Such a concept and similarity can be seen in other prints of the same period, with Whirlpools.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[31] DESIGN DRAWING FOR WALL MURAL
1958
Third public cemetery, Utrecht
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 234.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 322 and Life and Work, page 89.
Based on: Not known.

The second design drawing for the cemetery commission, of which Escher does not show in a compositional sense, as the drawing repeats motifs taken from a tessellation, with their extremities fading towards the rectangular border.
    The second and final of two murals for the cemetery (above).

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[32] TILED COLUMN WITH SWAN MOTIFS
June 1959
Tiled column in Nieuwe Meisjesschool (New Girls’ School) (now the Johanna Westermanschool) The Hague. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft), column diameter 34 cm, height 300 cm.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 309-310.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 310, detail; Magic Mirror, page 60, detail page 61; World, page 242, detail and Art and Science, page 98, detail, page 100.
Based on: Drawing 96 [Swan], December 1955.

The arbitrary first in a series of three columns for the Girls school, detailed above. Escher here uses the swan tessellation to illustrate the principle of glide reflection.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[33] TILED COLUMN WITH SWAN MOTIFS
1959
Tiled column in Nieuwe Meisjesschool (New Girls’ School) (now the Johanna Westermanschool) The Hague. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft), column diameter 34 cm, height 300 cm.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 303.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 303, detail and Art and Science, page 102, detail.
Based on: Drawing 74 [Bird], July 1949.

The arbitrary second in the series. Escher here uses the bird tessellation to illustrate the principle of translation.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[34] TILED COLUMN WITH LIZARD MOTIFS
1959
Tiled column in Nieuwe Meisjesschool (New Girls’ School) (now the Johanna Westermanschool) The Hague. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft), column diameter 34 cm, height 300 cm.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 312.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 312, detail and Art and Science, page 102, detail.
Based on: Drawing 104 [Lizard], May 1959.

The third and final example of the series. Escher here uses the lizard tessellation to illustrate the principle of rotation.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[35] BOOK COVER FOR REGELMATIGE VLAKVERDERLING
1959
Book cover design for Regelmatige vlakverderling (Regular Plane Filling), published by the De Roos Foundation.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 296.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, 297.
Based on: Drawing 47 [Two Birds], July 1942.

Escher used a small-scale woodcut made in April 1949 for the purpose of illustrating the cover of his book (above).

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[36] BOOK COVER FOR GRAFIEK EN TEKENINGEN
1959
Screen fabric cover, book size 26 x 26 cm
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 272 and Life and Work, pages 92, 94 and 99.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 276.
Based on: Drawing 66 [Winged Lion], October 1945.

Escher uses the drawing (above), with a composition of a simple nature. Oddly, this is unbalanced, with two rows of black dogs and one row with white. Presumably this must have been purposefully done, as the distinction is obvious, and so this is thus not to be regarded as incorrect per se.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[37] BOOK COVER FOR VAN THIJNS MATHEMATICAL SERIES
1959
Book cover with an Escher design for Van Thijns mathematical series of books
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 272.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 273.
Based on: Not known.

A notable usage of Escher's work was for a series of mathematical books for schools published by J. B. Woulters, Groningen, of which a tessellating compositional design appeared on the front cover of all 14 books in the ‘van Thijns’ series. The two bird motifs shown have no periodic drawing number, so presumably these must have occurred in study form only.
    Although the composition, a vertical metamorphosis, is in itself is of a reasonable quality, albeit of a simple and ‘quick’ nature (perhaps deliberately so for the intended audience), this is not entirely satisfactory in an aesthetic sense. The metamorphosis occurs with an exchange of bird motifs for no apparent purpose than for its own inherent sake (this lacking the aesthetic quality of the opposite motifs in concept of Sky and Water I).
    Perhaps of most significance is the exposure this gave to Escher, with generations of Dutch children having thus been familiarised with tessellations, from which it may naturally have been thought that this would thus inspire them to produce their own. However, this seems not to have been the case, as no successor to Escher appeared.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[38] TILED FAÇADE FOR ENTRANCE TO VRIJZINNIG CHRISTELIJK LYCEUM
December 1959
Design for tiled façade to the entrance to the Vrijzinnig Christelijk Lyceum (Liberal Christian Lyceum), The Hague.
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 312.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 312; World, page 242; Magic Mirror, page 32 (monochrome) and Life and Work, page 115.
Based on: Drawing 105 [Pegasus], June 1959.

For the above commission, Escher essentially simply repeats the Pegasus motif of the drawing in a composition that it somewhat obscure. Essentially, the design is shown in two halves in mirror style, the line of symmetry having no connection to the motif itself, resulting in an incongruous composition that is somewhat jarring. This ‘style’ repeats itself with the earlier table linen studies of 1954. A more obvious composition would have seen the motifs released at the extremities, as this is more natural idea for a flying horse motif portrayed, of which this aspect is neglected – essentially, the motif here is effectively under used, as the composition could be applied to any tessellation consisting of two translations.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[39] TILE TABLEAU FOR THE FAÇADE OF A PRIVATE HOUSE
1960
Tile tableau for the façade of a private house, Amsterdam. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft); square tiles 213 x 213 mm, mural 170 x 280 cm (approx.).
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, pages 268 and 306.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 306.
Based on: Drawing 82 [Bird/Fish], February 1951.

Upon receiving a commission (above), Escher composed a composition somewhat similar to Sky and Water I, albeit with differences, as here the motifs are essentially ‘static’, with no metamorphosis occurring.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[40] PAINTED COLUMN
March 1962
Painted Concrete column, for the Provinciale Waterstaat en Planologische Dienst (Provincial Bureau of Water Management and Planning), diameter 30 cm, height 250 cm
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, pages 244, 258, 274 and 313-314.
Pictured in: Life and Work, page 123, detail (monochrome) and Visions of Symmetry, page 260.
Concept drawing: Visions of Symmetry, page 314.
Based on: Drawings 111 [Flying Fish/Bird], 112 [Flying Fish/Boat], 113 [Fish/Boat] and 114 [Fish/Frog], all of January 1962.

Escher received a commission from the in Haarlem, March 1962.
    The columns motifs are based upon a water theme, with appropriate motifs, of which all four of the drawings (111-114) underlying this were specially designed for this express purpose. Although these are all relatively ‘simple’ and although not of his best work, these retain much of merit despite their ‘forced’ nature. Essentially, this is of ‘vertical metamorphosis’, wrapped around a cylinder (of which Escher himself undertook the task of painting).
    Both the numbered drawings and column are alike in that a ‘defining’ sepia coloured line around the drawings (this not being on any other drawing) is ‘retained’ for the column.
    A picture of the column, with Escher and others at the opening ceremony in March 1962, is in Life and Work, above.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[41] ICOSAHEDRON FOR THE VERBLIFA COMPANY
1963
Tin icosahedron box for the Verblifa company, diameter 170 mm
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 247 and 295; Life and Work, page 146 and Magic Mirror, page 58.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 295; Life and Work, page 151; Magic Mirror, page 60 and Kaleidocycles, page 17 (monochrome).
Based on: Drawing 42 [Starfish and Shells], August 1941.

Escher received a commission from the above Dutch tin manufacturing company to celebrate their 75th anniversary. For this, Escher used a variation of drawing 42 (Starfish and Shells), applying the starfish and shell motifs to a tin icosahedron. Strictly, the result is not a tessellation per se, as the shells are essentially placed inside the ‘negative’ space formed by the starfish in an ordered manner.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[42] CARVED SPHERE WITH LIZARD, FISH AND BAT
May 1963
Carved sphere commissioned by C.V.S. Roosevelt, diameter 53 mm
Discussed in: Visions of Symmetry, page 246; Life and Work, page 121 and Kaleidocycles, page 23.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, pages 246 (plastic ball) and 307 (sphere) and Kaleidocycles, page 23 (monochrome).
Based on: Drawing 85, [Lizard/Fish/Bat], April 1952.
Concept drawing: Kaleidocycles, page 23.

At the suggestion of C.V.S. Roosevelt, an admirer of Escher's work, Escher undertook the task of transferring another design onto a sphere with the drawing above. However, although he had hoped to make this himself, he no longer had the time or energy, as ill health interfered with these plans. Consequently, the actual task was handed over to Japanese netsuke carver Masatoshi, which Escher provided the design on a plastic ball, along with precise instructions as to coloration (page 307) to guide the carver. This thus resulted in the carved ivory sphere of which Escher was most pleased with its quality.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[43] TILED COLUMN FOR NEW LYCEUM (1)
1968
Tiled column for New Lyceum in Baarn. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft), column diameter 60 cm, height 260 cm.
Discussed in: Life and Work, page 126 and Visions of Symmetry, page 317.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 317, detail.
Based on: Drawings 126 [Fish/Bird], March 1967 and 136 [Two Tile Pairs], c. 1968.

This was the last of all the commissions, of which Escher returns to decorating columns, with two examples for the entrance hall to a school. For this, he uses drawing 126, apparently at whim.
    For this, the design necessitated two square units for the process, of which Escher went to the trouble of showing this aspect as a numbered drawing, despite the obvious inappropriateness of such a type.

Last updated 14 November 2005

 

[44] TILED COLUMN FOR NEW LYCEUM (2)
1968
Tiled column for New Lyceum in Baarn. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft), column diameter 60 cm, height 260 cm.
Discussed in: Life and Work, page 126 and Visions of Symmetry, page 318.
Pictured in: Visions of Symmetry, page 318, detail.
Based on: Drawings 134 [Flower], December 1967 and 136 [Two Tile Pairs] (an instructional drawing to the tile manufacturers).

For this Escher uses drawing 134, possibly composed for the purpose, of which he shows at the bottom of the drawing the two different tiles required.

Last updated 14 November 2005

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