Periodic Drawings 31-60

DRAWING 31 [FISH]
Ukkel, April 1940
Pencil and watercolour

Escher notes retrospectively on the drawing ‘system VC see no 32’, referring to the same symmetry system and not the motifs, which are coincidentally the same as drawing 30.
Although the fish here are not of the highest quality (as they are somewhat contorted), this tessellation is of more interest than normal due to an innovation of Escher's devising. This concerns the fish motif itself, of which by its inherent ‘ambiguity of outline’ (discussed in Essay 3,
Motif Choice, Fish), it will be found that it is possible to include not one but two motifs for a given outline. This is the first occurrence of such an idea, of which such aspects thus add greatly to potential for variety. Escher here shows both possibilities as a single composition; with the ‘upright’ and ‘upside-down’ fish placed left and right of an imaginary vertical centre line. Moreover, he could have also shown examples with a same orientation of motifs throughout, but chose not to. Indeed, Escher did not, as a general rule, concern himself with a set of ‘all-encompassing’ examples, preferring to compose a single drawing of his findings, as here.
As such, this example formed a ‘mini series’ of two, as the subsequent drawing is of a similar nature, based upon the same symmetry system (along with coloration and rendition).

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: red and white (unstated). No rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 32 [FISH]
Ukkel, April 1940
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Fish, 1963 (cat. 442).
Other related work: Two decorative intarsia panels (mirror images of each other) for the conference room of the mayor and aldermen in the raadzaal (council hall), Leiden Stadhuis (
Leiden Town Hall), 1940.

The fish motif here is of a very good quality, with no shortcomings of any note. Again, Escher is innovative here concerning the fins, whereby a ‘feathery’ appearance is adopted, essentially of necessity, as without this aspect the fins of the fish would be of much lower quality. A first here is that more attention is given to detail concerning the eye, whereby a highlight is added. Although this is a minor addition, such matters of detail contribute to an enhanced quality of motif. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given how simple and effective this is, although Escher did indeed use this detail in subsequent fish, this was not invariably so.
Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: red and white (unstated). Minor rendition, of both interior and outline in black.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 33 [LIZARD]
Ukkel, December 1940
Pencil and watercolour

Although Schattschneider has titled this as a ‘Lizard’, the motif is not strictly identifiable as such, as the creature has an obscure protuberance (a beak?) from its head.
Consequently, as the motif is not readily identifiable, along with the front and back legs being of disproportionate lengths, and has anatomical inconsistencies, this thus results in a motif of a decidedly inferior nature.
Perhaps of most interest concerning this tessellation is its background, a result of Escher's study of non-representational tessellations, more specifically of right-angled triangles (as shown on page 83) that underlie this. Curiously, once again, a rectangular grid overlays a drawing that does not appear strictly necessary, as the underlying right-angled triangles (which although apparent are not so prominently shown), has all the requirements to act as a ‘scaffold’.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: blue and white (unstated). No rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 34A [BIRD/FISH]
Baarn, March 1941
Pencil, ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Two Intersecting Planes, January 1957 (cat. 377).
Other related work: Design for intarsia panel, Leiden Stadhuis (
Leiden Town Hall), c. 1940 (unexecuted).

Firstly, as this and the following two drawings are all interrelated, and due to their somewhat involved nature are difficult to unravel, a digression into their intricacies is in order before a discussion as to the drawings quality is undertaken. As such, their precise chronological sequence, due to various complexities, went unrecorded. Escher shows three drawings of essentially the same motifs, with only minor changes occurring of the ‘basic model’. Confusingly, Escher used a combination of numbers and letters on each drawing for identification purposes, albeit not in a consistent manner. The number 34 is retained throughout, with variations of A and B being added but not a C. Schattschneider, page 293, gives an order of 34A, 34B and 34 which I thus retain here for the sake of reference purposes, although as a result of my own investigations I am far from certain that her order is correct, preferring 34A, 34 and 34B for reasons of which I discuss in detail concerning each drawing below.
As regards 34A itself, this is beyond any reasonable doubt as of being the first, as the ‘general rendition’ is somewhat inferior to the two likely succeeding drawings. The bird and fish motifs are both of a most pleasing quality, with no shortcomings of any note. Furthermore, they appear in two opposite directions, in an aesthetic orientation. Almost certainly, the motifs were specially designed for this ideal situation in terms of their aesthetic possibility. Curiously, both motifs have additional markings in the form of apparent changes to the outline, possibly in relation to the variations of the other two drawings.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, of two colours: red and white (unstated). For unknown reasons one of the fish is coloured in a noticeably different manner, apparently of gold paint. Whether this was contemporary is uncertain, albeit in all probability is a later addition, but whatever, this is not of any importance as regards the tessellation per se. No rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 34B [BIRD/FISH]
Baarn, March 1941
Ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 64.
Related graphic work:
Two Intersecting Planes, January 1957 (cat. 377).
Other related work: Design for intarsia panel, Leiden Stadhuis (
Leiden Town Hall), c. 1940 (unexecuted).

Although Schattschneider states this as the second in the ‘series of three’, I have serious reservations about this on a number of accounts. Firstly, although she dates this as March 1941, no such date can be seen on the drawing itself. Invariably, along with other details, Escher always included the date, and so without this detail the attribution is questionable. Consequently, a drawing with no date thereby suggests (albeit not necessarily so), a later date, essentially by default. Secondly, again in contrast to his usual policy of giving the number of motifs and symmetry type, the latter is in a different place than usual, whilst the number of motifs does not appear, thereby suggesting of a ‘non-normal drawing’ i.e. an interloper. Thirdly, the paper size of 34B is noticeably smaller in comparison with the others - 280 x 237 mm as against 34A and 34, both of a very similar size, 360 x 270 mm and 360 x 267 mm. More probable is that the two similar sized sheets are more related i.e. drawn on at the same time than the notably smaller one. Again, why should Escher use drastically different sizes of paper for such a sequence of drawings as given by Schattschneider? Fourthly, the rendition of 34B is typically of a later period in comparison with the others. However, further potential confusion is caused by Escher noting ‘improved drawing no.34’ - has the original been obliterated like others with the same text? An alternate explanation is that the term ‘improvement’ is of a wholly new drawing (of which I believe it is). Therefore, the evidence as outlined above thus suggests that 34B should be regarded as the third of the ‘series of three’. Possibly this could be as of late as 1960, as Escher was preparing drawings for his book The Graphic Work of M.C. Escher. Therefore, this was in essentially direct response of necessity upon finding that the other drawings previously created would not reproduce (presumably due to the gold paint he used for the colouring) of a sufficient quality for the book.
As regards the quality of motifs, as only the most minor of changes have been made, only discernable if studiously looked for, essentially the same positive comments of 34A thus apply here as well, thus making further comment superfluous.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: dark green and white (unstated). Considered rendition, with interior and black outline.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 34 [BIRD/FISH]
Baarn, March 1941
India ink, watercolour, pencil and gold paint
Related graphic work:
Two Intersecting Planes, January 1957.
Other related work: Design for intarsia panel, Leiden Stadhuis (
Leiden Town Hall), c. 1940 (unexecuted).

Escher notes on this ‘Not reproducible’, presumably added subsequently, c. 1959 in conjunction with his book The Graphic Work of M.C. Escher, presumably on account of the gold paint used to colour the motifs being unsuitable for photographic purposes.
Again, the order of Schattschneider is further questioned here. If, as she states, that the sequence runs 34A, 34B and 34, as 34B is clearly of an obviously superior quality, why the necessity of this additional drawing? Invariably, Escher did not repeat a tessellation, and so with the obvious quality of 34B, given as second in the sequence, what is this (34) drawings purpose? Most interestingly, Escher has subsequently (probably 1960, in relation of his forthcoming book) added pencilled comments ‘Not reproducible’ (presumably due to usage of gold paint), which thereby suggests he then decided to produce yet another example, of 34B. As 34B is not dated, this thus indirectly suggests that it could be a later drawing of c. 1960. However, as if to continue the confusion, once again the ‘improved’ text appears (in conjunction with ‘enlargement’), of which as detailed in 34B, is open to interpretation.
As regards the drawing itself, somewhat curiously, and unusually, this is shown in a most concise manner, with larger motifs, their repetitive nature being only just apparent. Again, as with drawings 34A and 34B, although changes have once again occurred, these are of a most minor nature, of which the same positive comments can thus be applied here, thus rendering further comment superfluous.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: blue and gold. Minor rendition, of interior and outlines.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 35 [LIZARD]
Baarn, July 1941; improved April 1963
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 54.
Related graphic work: [Plane-filling motif with reptiles], 1941 (cat. 324).
Division, July 1956 (cat. 411). Smaller and Smaller, October 1956 (cat. 413).

Escher notes ‘This drawing will reproduce’, which is an apparent obscurity, as this is no different in nature to any other. Schattschneider asserts that this is referring to drawing 34, which is on the verso of this drawing.
As such, the appearance of this intrinsic drawing of 1941 is misleading, as the original drawing has been obliterated by being, in Escher's own words, ‘improved’, in 1963. Clearly, the rendition is different from its immediate predecessors and successors, of which presumably it once resembled. Regrettably, none of the original drawing remains.
As regards the quality of the motif itself, the lizard is of a somewhat awkward appearance, with the hind legs being of a contrived nature, and furthermore is disproportionate in length with the front ones. However, Escher was apparently pleased with the quality, as he used this on three occasions (above).

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: green and pale brown. As this has been ‘improved’, with the original drawing consequently obliterated, of necessity the intrinsic colouring and rendition of 1963 is thus discussed. Considered rendition, of both three-dimensional shading and interior details, with a thick black outline.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 36 [SNAKE]
Baarn, July 1941
Pencil and watercolour

This snake tessellation can quite clearly be seen to be of an inferior quality as compared to Escher's usual standard, the head being far too large in proportion to the body. Furthermore, the only interior detail added was that of an eye, with the rest of the snake left undefined. Although of a ‘difficult’ motif (indeed, Escher’s only example), such infrequence of appearance should not preclude quality. Undoubtedly, the cause of such a relatively poor quality motif was that this was occasioned by the ‘necessity’ of including an example of a ‘missing symmetry’ type (VIB) (detailed in the essay An Essay on M.C. Escher's 1-137 Numbered Drawings An Introduction, 2.9 The 1941-1942 Notebooks and Tessellating Systems). As this thus involves a self-imposed restriction i.e. designing for a specific symmetry, the resulting tessellation is thus not necessarily going to be of an ideal standard, as this plainly exemplifies.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: green and white (unstated). No rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 37 [BEETLE]
Baarn, July 1941
Coloured ink, pencil and watercolour

Again, as with Drawing 36, this was probably composed for completing the missing symmetry types, its type (IIID) being the first such appearance. Again, this is of a good quality, with excellent articulation, some of the finer details shown, such as antenna and legs are notoriously difficult to accomplish, although this is not intrinsically of itself of the absolute highest standard.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: yellow and white (unstated). No rendition.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 3 August 2012

 


DRAWING 38 [DRAGONFLY]
Baarn, July 1941
Pencil, ink and watercolour

Again, as with Drawings 36 and 37, this was probably composed for completing the missing symmetry types, its type (IA) being the first such appearance.
As such, this is of relative poor inherent quality, with the wings anatomically incorrect, being asymmetric to the body. Perhaps of most interest here is that this is the first occurrence (surprisingly) of arguably the simplest way of creating a tessellation, namely with two translations, in this instance of a parallelogram.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: red and yellow. No rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 39 [BUG]
Baarn, July 1941, improved April 1963
India ink, coloured ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 48.

Escher retrospectively notes on the drawing system ‘VIIIC variant of 86’, referring to the motif and not the tessellation system and ‘improved IV-‘63’ that this has been, in his own words, ‘improved’ (for the book Symmetry Aspects, of 1965). Consequently, the appearance of this intrinsic drawing of 1941 is thus misleading, as the original drawing has been obliterated by the subsequent ‘improvement’, in 1963.
Again, as with drawings 36, 37, and 38, this was probably composed for completing the missing symmetry system, its type (VIIIC) being the first such appearance.
In contrast to the others of a similar ‘forced’ nature, the bug here is quite convincing, with the segmented elements of the legs and antenna accurately portrayed. However, with examples of this type, where the extremities splay out from the body, these are notoriously difficult to discern (of which Escher noted in
Regelmatige vlakverderling), as this tessellation shows. Ideally, a defining black line around the motif should have been used to improve this aspect.

Coloration and Rendition
As this has been ‘improved’, with the original obliterated, the following thus of necessity discusses the April 1963 coloration and rendition. Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: brown and pale yellow.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 40 [CRAB]
Baarn, July 1941
Pencil, ink and watercolour

As such, a high-quality crab motif, with no obvious shortcomings. Escher here deserves praise, as such a motif is fraught with difficulty in composing, as by the creatures outlines is somewhat 'involved' , and therefore most trying for tessellation purposes. As it is of a different creature from the ubiquitous birds and fishes, it is thus of more interest than with examples of those motifs.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: light and dark reddish brown. Minor rendition, of black outline.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 41 [TWO FISH]
Baarn, July 1941, improved April 1963
Pencil, ink and watercolour
Preparatory drawing:
Visions of Symmetry, page 108.
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 21.
Related graphic work:
Fish, October 1941 (cat. 323).

Escher notes on the drawing that this has been, in his own words, ‘improved’ (for the book Symmetry Aspects of M.C. Escher's Periodic Drawings, of 1965). As such, the appearance of this intrinsic drawing of 1941 is thus misleading, as the original drawing has been obliterated by the ‘improvement’, in 1963.
As such, this drawing is of interest in that the fish are for the first time shown not in profile but as seen from above. This particular viewpoint for the motif occurs frequently in succeeding drawings, somewhat disproportionately so considering its inherent worth, as this view is not typical for a fish. Strangely, the fish are portrayed in a somewhat odd manner, of a typical appearance resembling a flatfish, albeit shown here with a degree of (unintentional?) three-dimensions (almost certainly added at the improvement of 1963), resulting in an unnatural appearance.
Once again, the apparent underlying grid of rectangles that are faintly discernable on the numbered drawing bear no apparent relation to the vertices as shown, which are of a rectangle and rhombus, with both of these divided along their diagonals, the latter of the shorter one.

Coloration and Rendition
As this has been improved, with the original obliterated, the following of necessity thus discusses the April 1963 coloration and rendition. Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours, not strictly identifiable: possibly grey and pale yellow. Considered rendering, with shading to suggest three dimensions, black outlines.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 42 [SHELLS AND STARFISH]
Baarn, August 1941
India ink, coloured ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 27.
Related work: Similar starfish and shells, of a non-tessellating nature, for the decoration of a tin icosahedron box designed for the Verblifa Company, 1963.

Escher here combines animate and inanimate motifs with a common sea theme; with starfish and shells (the latter of which he apparently had an interest in, as these often occur in earlier prints of a non-tessellating nature). Schattschneider asserts that this drawing arose as a pattern of stars and diamond shapes based on a square grid, the diagram being redrawn on page 295, with a shell and starfish being emphasised. As such, the shells essentially fill the space occasioned by the starfish, of which the outline of the latter is more critical as regards veracity. Therefore, as it is quite a simple matter to add such shell-like motifs (due to their ‘ambiguity of outline’) to an arbitrary tessellating outline, there is no great challenge in composing such types, which probably explains the lack of such motifs in his succeeding tessellations.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, non-minimal, essentially four colours: pale yellow, brown, grey and orangish-brown. Although two colours could have been used, Escher chose four, as according to the number of distinct motifs. As can be seen, the rendition here is of a noticeably higher standard than of contemporary tessellations, with considerable fine detail. Possibly, this was affected by the shell motifs themselves, as they demand a higher standard of rendition to be effectively identifiable. As such, a flat, simple, single colouring would be inappropriate in this instance, hence the more considered rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 43 [FLOWERS/LEAVES]
Baarn, August 1941
Pencil, ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 17.

Schattschneider asserts that this drawing arose from the same source as with Drawing 42, of a pattern of stars and diamonds, the diagram being redrawn on page 295, with the leaf motif emphasised, albeit this is not this is not a facsimile of the drawing itself. Perhaps of most interest here is that this drawing is the first that consists of motifs of a wholly inanimate nature, namely of flowers and leaves, the motifs possessing a unifying theme. Furthermore, is somewhat similar in nature to the preceding example, with a common feature of underlying pentagonal tiles. As these motifs are somewhat ambiguous as regards outline, they thus have more leeway as regards veracity. Therefore, due to the relative simple task of composing such examples, Escher presumably did not pursue this type to any real degree, as they lack the challenge of animate motifs. Again, this motif lacks a defining line to delineate the leaves, of which this example, by its identical colourings of the same motifs thus ideally requires.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum in intent, three colours: green, yellow and blue. A higher quality rendition than usual, the reason for this is presumably the same as for drawing 42, due to the demands of the motif. In contrast to his usual policy of having contiguous motifs of contrasting colours, it can be seen that here that he broke his own rule. As such, this was caused by the necessity of remaining true to the inherent coloration and rendition of the leaves – green. Obviously any other colour would essentially be inappropriate in this instance, albeit autumnal colours could have been used as an alternative. Another aspect to the coloration and rendition is the curious arbitrary line that divides the flowers into two discrete colourings, of which there seems to be logical explanation for.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 44 [BIRD]

Baarn, December 1941
Ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 58.
Related work: Design for bank-note watermark, f 100, featuring Christiaan Huygens, 1950 (unexecuted).
Concept drawing (Bank-note)
Magic Mirror, page 62.

A bird motif of average quality, in which Escher, for whatever reason, left open-ended as to whether the birds are presented in a under or over view. (Interestingly, and therefore suggesting the ‘best’, the design for the bank-note shows an under view.) As such, the bird is thus unsatisfactory, something of a compromise, neither of one view or other.
Although Schattschneider gives, on page 295, a possible source for this from Escher's notebook, of the diagram I B2 type 1 on page 81, this seems unlikely, as despite possessing the same tessellation system the diagram is not of a cruciform nature as with the motif of the tessellation.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: dark and light shades of yellow (ochre?). No rendition.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 45 [ANGEL-DEVIL]
Baarn, Christmas 1941
India ink coloured pencil, opaque white
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 15.
Related graphic work:
Circle Limit IV, July 1960 (cat. 436).
Other related work: Surface design for carved maple sphere with 12 angel-devil pairs, 1942.

This is a particularly impressive tessellation on a number of counts. As such, although of an ‘imaginary’ nature as regards the motifs, and therefore of an inherently lesser tariff of motif, as it has a wider choice of outline, the motifs are of a most pleasing quality, with confluence, undoubtedly angel and devil-like.
Furthermore, in terms of unifying theme these motifs are ideal, as they could not be more inter-related, albeit of a contrasting nature, and therefore ideal material for a following print. Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that Escher did not more or less immediately (as was his usual policy) use these in this manner, and indeed, it was not until 1960 that this was used in a print. Possibly, as he had used this drawing for a three dimensional model, he did not therefore regard such a print to be of an immediate concern.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: shades of black and white. As such, due to the inherent concepts of the two motifs as good/evil, this thus naturally suggests the appropriate colouring, black and white, of which Escher suitably employs. Furthermore, the rendition of the drawing is of a considerably more exacting standard than any of its predecessors, and indeed this is arguably the most highly detailed of all.

Created c. 2005.

 


DRAWING 46 [TWO FISH]
Baarn, May 1942
India ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Preparatory drawing:
Magic, page 72.

Escher notes on the drawing that these are ‘apparently symmetrical’, of which these undoubtedly appear at first sight, hence the comment. Only thorough close inspection is this lack of symmetry detectable.
An example of the ‘flatfish’ type, of an inferior nature to compose, as previously discussed.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: blue and brown. Considered rendition, of a three dimensional appearance. Both coloration and rendition are noteworthy for their high quality, strangely disproportional in extent as to the inherent low quality of the motifs.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 47 [TWO BIRDS]
Baarn, July 1942
Ink and watercolour
Concept drawing (for wall covering):
Visions, page 297.
Related graphic work:
Verbum, July 1942 (cat. 326) [Plane-filling motif with birds], April 1949.
Other related work: Book cover design for
Regelmatige vlakverderling, 1958. Design for wall covering, Leiden Stadhuis (Leiden Town Hall), c.1940.

This design marks the first in a series of six tessellations composed for a specific purpose, namely that of the print Verbum, of which I have discussed the background details in the Introduction to the discussions as a whole, An Introduction, 2.6 Constrained Tessellation. Consequently, as they are thus linked, the drawings are discussed with this aspect in mind.
As such, the bird and fish motifs are of a most high quality. Perhaps an indication as to its quality is given by the fact that this was used no less than four times (above). No shortcomings are readily discernable.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: dark green and pale orange. Minor rendition of interior detail. Arguably, the dark green is too dark, as the interior detail, although still visible, is noticeably less easy to discern than with the pale orange example.

Created c. 2005.*

 

 

DRAWING 48 [BIRD/FISH]
Baarn, July 1942
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Verbum, 1942 (cat. 326).


The second of the series of six drawings. Pleasingly, although the fish have a three-dimensional appearance, this is tempered by the fact that their inherent quality of drawing as regards veracity leaves a little to be desired. As regards the birds, although these are not of the highest quality, they remain of an acceptable standard, of which these could have been improved with a more rounded head.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: green and off-white. No rendition. Somewhat curiously, the rendition is sadly lacking in comparison with the others, this being left non-delineated, of both exterior and interior lines. Consequently, the fish motif especially is difficult to discern.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 49 [TWO FISH]
Baarn, July 1942
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Verbum, 1942 (cat. 326).

The third in the series of six drawings. As such, each of the two fish motifs are somewhat contrived, as they have an unnatural, contradictory appearance, resembling flatfish, with a three-dimensions view implied by their interior lines. Consequently, this is of an inferior nature.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: dark green and pale orange. In contrast to Drawing 47, which apparently used the same colours, the dark green on this is noticeably less intense, resulting in the interior detail being more readily discernable. Considered rendition, with interior and outlines defined.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 50 [FISH/FROG]
Baarn, July 1942
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Verbum, 1942 (cat. 326). Fish and Frogs, October 1949 (cat. 364).

The fourth in the series of six drawings. Both motifs have shortcomings. The fish is of a contrived nature, whilst the frog has considerable shortcomings, with its front and hind legs being out of all proportion and scale. Furthermore, it possesses a tail, of which such a feature is non-existent in a real-life frog.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: dark green and pale yellow. Again, the dark green is slightly paler than its immediate predecessor, with the interior detail being more readily seen. Considered rendition, with interior and outlines defined.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 51 [FROG]
Baarn, July 1942
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Verbum, 1942 (cat. 326).

The fifth in the series of six drawings. As such, a somewhat curious drawing as regards its style, as in contrast to the other five examples in this series it uses only one frog; all the others use two motifs. Presumably, for the purposes of the composition, this was effectively ‘forced’ upon Escher. Furthermore, despite a triangular/rhombus underlying background, this is shown with an apparently incongruous rectangular grid, and indeed he effectively classifies this as IIIC as such, a parallelogram, albeit he does state that this is a special case.
Again as with others in the series, the motif is lacking in terms of anatomical correctness, with the body tapering from head to rear, along with the front and hind legs remaining disproportionate, shown with an tail, all three of these aspects being non existent in a real-life frog.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, simple, one colour of contrasting shades of light and dark blue. Interestingly, this is the first occurrence whereby Escher explicitly uses this particular colouring scheme. A possible, earlier example is Drawing 44, whereby although it is possible that he used different shades of yellow ochre, albeit here the contrast is so extreme that this cannot be regarded in the normal sense as of one colour, as exemplified here. Oddly, as the other five drawings use contrasting colours, there appears to be no valid reason to choose such a colouring scheme in such specific circumstances. Minor rendition of interior lines.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 6 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 52 [FROG/BIRD]
Baarn, July 1942
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Verbum, 1942 (cat. 326).

The sixth and final drawing in the series. As is self evident, the ‘frog’ motif here is of a most poor quality, to put it mildly, and quite frankly is unacceptable, and is essentially unrecognisable as worthy of the name. As such its shortcomings abound, descriptions of which are surely unnecessary, of which surely only due to its necessity of inclusion for Verbum did Escher likely deign to include this as a numbered drawing. Although the bird motif is of a broadly viable quality, this is not without a shortcoming, as the eye is placed incongruously towards the back of the head, whereas if it had been brought forward the anatomical correctness would be considerably improved. For no apparent reason the addition of the interior lines appears somewhat casual, particularly with feather detail, with many inaccuracies, most unlike Escher – perhaps this was effected by the inherently poor quality of the tessellation, and hence these lines thus reflect this.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: light brown and light blue. Both considered and minor rendition of interior lines. Oddly, the frog detail is barely perceptible.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 6 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 53 [TWO CLOWNS]
Baarn, September 1942
Ink and Watercolour
Related Work: A pair of figures similar to these appears in the surface design for a carved beechwood sphere with grotesques, 1943.

This is the first of two drawings (53 and 54) of inherently the same chronology possessing the same symmetry (triangle-system. 2 motifs, symmetrical, II A2 type 1*), thereby clearly showing that Escher composed these with a definite purpose in mind. Presumably, upon having previously composed tessellations for ‘missing symmetry’ examples of square-based motifs, Escher then turned his attention to those of equilateral triangles.
Schattschneider titles this as
Two Clowns, presumably because of their ‘acrobatic’ nature, albeit this attribute is barely identifiable, as the motifs are somewhat obscure, of unnatural orientations, and furthermore the red coloured ‘acrobat’ has a tail, along with absurdly short legs.
As such, this is undeniably of an inferior quality, of which surely only due to the ‘necessity’ of composing a tessellation for a ‘missing symmetry’ was this duly drawn. Quite why Escher chose human-like motifs for the interior of these is unclear, as a lizard-like motif is more suitable.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: red and black. Minor rendition of interior lines.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 6 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 54 TWO INSECTS
Baarn, October 1942, Improved April 1963
India ink, coloured ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 19.

The second of the two chronologically related drawings (53 and 54) with a common symmetry.
As such, the appearance of this intrinsic drawing of 1942 is misleading, as the original drawing has been obliterated by a subsequent ‘improvement’, in 1963. Almost certainly, this refers to the three-dimensional shading, of which it can be seen that the rendition is of a considered nature, perhaps surprisingly so, as the motifs are of an undeniably inferior quality in the strictest sense and therefore ‘undeserving’ of such high quality rendering.
As such, this has, in general style much in common with an earlier drawing, of No.39, whereby the same type of segmented legs and antenna appear. As regards the motifs, these are considerably fanciful, with no resemblance to real-life creatures
per se beyond being bug-like in a broad sense. However, as representational tessellations do not always have to portray existing creatures, imaginary creatures, as here, although inherently inferior in that sense are indeed acceptable, of which these are of an acceptable quality if due allowance is made. Indeed, the fanciful nature aside, the articulation of the legs and antenna is most impressive.
Although Schattschneider gives a possible source, namely from Pólya, diagram D30, this is most unlikely, as although the tessellation system is indeed the same, the outline is wholly different, and furthermore the time span (six years) between the respective studies adds further to this likelihood.

Coloration and Rendition
As the original coloration and rendition has been improved, with the original obliterated, of necessity this thus discusses the former. Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: red and yellow. Considerable attention is paid to the rendering, with shading and a black outline, resulting in a high-quality finish, albeit disproportionate to the inherent quality of the motifs.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 55 [FISH]
Baarn, November 1942
Ink and watercolour
Related Work: Design for bank-note background, f 100, Christiaan Huygens, 1950 (unexecuted).
Concept drawing: (Bank-note)
Magic Mirror, page 62.

This is the first of two drawings (54 and 55) of the same chronology and possessing the same symmetry (triangle-system I B3 type 1), thereby clearly showing that Escher composed these with a definite purpose in mind.
As such, this is very much of an inherently inferior quality, being of a flatfish type, of no particular merit. Oddly, despite its obvious lesser quality, Escher used this for a proposed bank-note design, in which a variation of the drawing occurred, with flowers replacing groups of six flatfish (shown schematically, page 298).

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, three colours: red, yellow and blue. Possibly Escher was more circumspect in choice of colour than usual, selecting colours of maximum separation around a colour wheel, thereby aiding contrast. Of note is the rendition, which in quality is out of proportion as to the inherent worth of the motif.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 56 [LIZARD]
Baarn, November 1942
India ink, gold ink, coloured pencil and poster paint
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 78.
Related Work: Hand-printed circular design in gold and black on turquoise silk, December 1942.

The second of the two chronologically related drawings (55 and 56) with a common symmetry.
A lizard motif of good quality, albeit not in perfect proportion, as the front and hind legs are of noticeably different lengths.
A secondary feature to this is that Escher added a pronounced colour border, of approximately a mid-grey, albeit somewhat poorly applied, with backruns visible, a situation not helped by attempting this on (unsuitable) squared paper instead of watercolour. Such matters of technique aside, quite why this was included is obscure, as it is not germane to the tessellation itself, and so it is reasonable to assume that Escher was experimenting, with border effects, as the next drawing also has this coloured border.
Curiously, aside from the main numbering this is also shown, at lower left as ‘6’, the number being circled. The reason for this is unknown.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, three colours: red, gold and off-white. Another usage of gold paint, albeit applied so heavily that a cursory glance at this would mistake the colouring as a dark brown. Whether such an application was deliberate is uncertain. Possibly, though unlikely, the gold has deteriorated, resulting in a darkened appearance. Whatever, the choice is decidedly poor, as the motifs interior detail is barely discernable. Considered rendition, with shading to suggest three- dimensions.

Created c. 2005.

 

 

DRAWING 57 [TWO FISH]
Baarn, November 1942
Ink and Watercolour

Another of the ‘flatfish’ type, of inherently lower tariff than with a normal, ‘orthodox’ fish, as seen from the side. Possibly this was composed for a missing symmetry, albeit this is a variant of an existing type.
As with the preceding drawing, this has a pronounced colour border, again with the same shortcomings in terms of quality. Presumably, Escher did not find favour with such a feature, as this marks the end of such examples.
Schattschneider asserts, page 299 that this is directly derived from a drawing in his notebook, of which although the tessellation system is indeed the same, the geometric tiles bear no resemblance to the motifs here, making such a direct attribution unlikely.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: gold? and off-white. Although Schattschneider does not state gold for the darker colour, as this is essentially identical in appearance to the preceding drawing, I thus assume that this is so. Again, as with Drawing 56, a poor choice, as the interior detail is barely discernable. A considered rendition, with shading to suggest three-dimensions, disproportionate as to the inherent quality of the motifs.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 58 [TWO FISH]
Baarn, November 1942
Watercolour and ink
Related graphic work: [New year’s greeting card, Eugène and Willy Strens, 1956], October 1952 (cat. 385).

Another of the ‘flatfish’ type, of inherently lower tariff than with a normal, ‘orthodox’ fish, as seen from the side. Possibly this was composed for a missing symmetry, albeit this is of a variant of an existing type.
Oddly, for so poor a motif, Escher used this in one of his graphic works (above). Here, the fish were turned 45° so that they travel diagonally, presumably shown as an ‘improvement’ on the original drawing. In addition, to better suit the square format of the card, the fish on the extremities are distorted, of which as they are not rendered as essentially inferior to the originals, this thus shows the inherent ambiguity (and therefore lower quality) of such a type of fish.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: red and yellow. Considered rendition, with shading to suggest three-dimensions, disproportionate as to the inherent quality of the motifs.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 59 [TWO FISH]
Baarn, November 1942
India ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 22.
Related Work: Hand-printed designs on silk, 1943. Black and gold on red page 271, green and gold on ivory.

This is the first of two drawings (59 and 60) of inherently the same chronology possessing the same symmetry (2 motifs system VIID-VIIID variant 2), thereby clearly showing that Escher composed these with a definite choice in mind. Possibly this was composed for a missing symmetry, albeit this is a variant of an existing type.
Another of the ‘flatfish’ type, of inherently lower tariff than with a normal, ‘orthodox’ fish, as seen from the side.
Somewhat surprisingly for such relatively poor quality of motif, Escher used this in related works (above), albeit these were of a simple nature, with motifs omitted.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: dark green and light brown. Considered rendition, with shading to suggest three-dimensions, disproportionate as to the inherent quality of the motifs.

Created c. 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 60 [TWO LIZARDS]
Baarn, December 1942
Watercolour and ink

The second of the two chronologically related drawings (59 and 60) with a common symmetry.
Although Schattschneider asserts this as of ‘two lizards’ this more accurately describes only the light brown coloured creature, as the dark green one is of a somewhat imaginary nature.
Of relative poor quality, as the motifs, if indeed of lizards, are somewhat contrived, with both having legs of different lengths, and furthermore the dark coloured green has most strange eyes. Consequently, this is thus of inferior quality.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: dark green and light brown. A considered rendition, with shading to suggest three-dimensions, disproportionate as to the inherent quality of the motifs.

Created c. 2005. Last Updated: 11 June 2008

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