Periodic Drawings 61-90

DRAWING 61 [TWO CREATURES]
Baarn, January 1944
Ink, watercolour and pencil

This is the first of two drawings (61 and 63) of inherently the same chronology possessing the same symmetry (2 motifs system IVB-VC variant 2), thereby clearly showing that Escher composed these with a definite choice in mind.
As such, both motifs are of an imaginary nature, and furthermore are of noticeably inferior quality, of arguably one of the poorest quality tessellation Escher produced in terms of completing as a finished, mature (i.e. 1936 onwards) drawing. Both creatures have considerable shortcomings as regards the veracity of a motif, even for imaginary creatures as here. Of these, the ‘lizard-type’ motif is the better of the two in relative terms, albeit the legs are most contrived, whilst the other creature, of a dog-like head with human ears on a horse’s body, whilst not a combination that is non-permissible in an imaginary sense, is wholly out of all proportion to a ridiculous degree, thus rendering the tessellation as unacceptable.

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

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 62 [DEVIL]
Baarn, January 1944
Coloured pencil ink and watercolour
Related graphic work: [
Devils, vignette], 1950 (cat. 370). [New Year’s greeting card, Eugène and Willy Strens, 1955], October 1952 (cat. 384).

Although of an imaginative nature, with a fanciful motif, the elements of this devil-like creature are in broad proportion, albeit shortcomings remain. However, if due allowance is made, the motif is of a pleasing quality.
Escher used this drawing twice (above); for an invitation card of an exhibition of his, and a commission, making minor variations to the extremities to better fit the square format of the card.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: red and blue. Although the devil ideally should be coloured black, due to the contrast rule this would result in an all-black drawing. Consequently, of necessity Escher thus chose two contrasting colours. A high quality rendition is shown.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005

 

 

DRAWING 63 [PESSIMIST/OPTIMIST]
Baarn, February 1944
India ink, coloured pencil and opaque white
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 9.
Related graphic work:
Encounter, May 1944 (cat. 331).

The second of the two chronologically related drawings (61 and 63) with a common symmetry.
Both of the motifs are of human-like appearance, of which there is an obvious discrepancy in quality between the two figures. The white motif is broadly in correct proportion, whilst in contrast the black motif is most contrived, of which although of a human-like appearance is considerably out of proportion, arguably to an unacceptable degree. However, a redeeming feature is the articulation. Although in places the motifs are contrived, one can still see individual arms, legs, bodies heads, and not just mere surface decoration
As such, this is related to the preceding drawing (62), as elements of this are to be found here, namely with the front half of the black and lower half of the white motifs. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Escher interpreted these figures as optimist and pessimist, of which although is indeed possible is not necessarily the best. Undoubtedly, as the black motif is undeniably more devil-like than pessimist, a title of ‘man and the devil’ would be more descriptive, of which furthermore this thus opens up possibilities for a print.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours, black and white. The rendition, although not three dimensional, is relatively detailed.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 64 [LEAF]
Baarn, August 1944
Watercolour
Related graphic work: [
Trees and Animals], 1953 (cat. 391).
Other related work: Design for banknote background, c.1952 (unexecuted).

Escher notes on the drawing that this is a ‘picture from arbitrary triangles, 3rd group’, this being taken from the notebook of triangular systems.
This is one of the few
inanimate numbered tessellations, of a leaf–like motif. Although this appears to be nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the portrayal, this is of more interest than normal due to the underlying symmetry system, which is not of an orthodox tessellating nature in which a polygon can be outlined. Indeed, although it has arisen from such a background, Escher has altered its nature so that it no longer has such a polygon.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: neutral brown and off-white. Minor rendition, with veining of the leaves.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005

DRAWING 65 [MOTH]
Baarn, September 1944
India ink, coloured pencil and watercolour

This is a rare example of a self-similar type of tessellation appearing as a numbered drawing, arising from Escher’s studies of this in an abstract sense, as exemplified in his notebooks, shown on Visions of Symmetry, page 91, upper left.
Although titled as a moth, the creature portrayed is not readily discernible due to its spindly nature, and indeed, upon a cursory glance it appears as an abstract design. Ideally, examples of this type require a defining black outline.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: red and grey. Although a rendering is shown, this is not too highly detailed.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005 (typo correction 24 November 2006) Minor revision 8 August 2012

DRAWING 66 [WINGED LION]
Baarn, October 1945
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Magic Mirror, January 1945 (cat. 338).

Although Schattschneider describes this as a ‘winged lion’ (possibly influenced by Escher's description of a similar head of Drawing 2), this is somewhat stretched. As such, I would prefer ‘winged dog-like’ (albeit admittedly with a long, unlike dog neck) as a more precise description.
Although the motif is of an imaginary nature, and therefore of inherently lower tariff, this is of a higher quality than normal for examples of this type, as the motifs elements are recognisable and are in general proportion, and so one can ‘believe’ in this creature.
A possible indication as to how highly Escher rated this is that he chose this in 1959 for the front cover of
The Graphic Work of M.C. Escher (shown on page 276 of Visions of Symmetry), of which by that date he had just over 100 drawings to choose from for that purpose.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: yellow and black. These are rendered to a relatively high quality, with shading suggesting three dimensions, albeit with the black winged lion, this aspect is not readily visible, and so this was an obviously poor choice of selection in this instance.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 67 [HORSEMAN]
Baarn, June 1946
India ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Preparatory drawing:
Visions of Symmetry, page 111.
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 38 and Life and Work, pages 142-143.
Related graphic work:
Horseman, July 1946 (cat. 342). Plate III, Regelmatige vlakverderling, June 1957 (cat. 418).

This drawing of a rider on a horse has achieved some renown, with many authorities highly impressed, with many examples of usage in books. However, although it is indeed impressive in its own way (due to the combination of motifs that are themselves difficult to achieve), such praise is, I feel, overstated. Unquestionably, the respective motifs are considerably out of proportion to each other, with the rider far too large for the horse (or alternatively, the horse is too small for the rider), and furthermore the horses’ proportions are most contrived, as the head and neck are far too large for the body (or alternatively, the body is too small for the head and neck). However, it should still be assessed highly, being of a high tariff of difficulty.
Ernst in
Life and Work gives a curious construction of this that is unnecessarily convoluted, giving three distinct lines of an underlying rectangle. Far simpler is joining the vertices, from which it can be seen that a kite is the underlying polygon, and furthermore of which only two distinct lines are required.
This is a rare example where some indication of the genesis can be seen, as Schattschneider shows two preliminary sketches whereby a steady progression through the stages occurs. This is notable as it shows how simple the original (geometric) outline was, of which only by a leap of imagination is a proto-horse and rider barely evident, which thus shows how skilful Escher was in improving upon the initial outline of essentially unpromising raw material.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: light yellow and light brown. Essentially Escher uses two colours of light and dark shades, of which he then further suggests a degree of three dimensions by intensifying these in appropriate places. Such relative simplicity is, in this situation, ideal, as although the tessellation has potential for multiple coloration, by so doing the motifs en masse would not be readily identifiable. A considered rendition, with much fine detail.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

DRAWING 68 [TWO REPTILES]
Baarn, March 1948
Coloured pencil, ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 13.
Related graphic work: Plate V,
Regelmatige vlakverderling, June 1957 (cat. 420).

Both creatures are of an imaginary nature, both not readily identifiable with any of real-life creature (furthermore, the ‘large eyed bug’ is especially fanciful) and so consequently, this is of a lower inherent tariff.
A variation of the drawing appears in
Regelmatige vlakverderling, in which the motifs have been simplified, consisting of straight lines.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: bluish green and off-white. A coloration and rendition of relative depth can be seen, somewhat out of proportion as to inherent quality of the drawing.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 69 [FISH/DUCK/LIZARD]
Baarn, March 1948
Ink and watercolour

Escher notes on the drawing ‘triangle system: 3 motifs, each with one colour’, an apparently simple statement which does not do it justice, as this has been more carefully planned than that text suggests. Although individually the motifs here are nothing out of the ordinary, the underlying concept that is portrayed is indeed of more significance, namely the three elements of Air, Water and Earth. Undoubtedly, such a unifying theme gives a very pleasing tessellation of subtlety when this is thus known, of which without such foreknowledge is not obvious.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly given the pleasing concept above, Escher did not choose to use this drawing for a print.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, three colours: red, blue and dark yellow. All of the motifs have a high-quality rendition, with shading to suggest three dimensions, with black outlines.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005

 

 

DRAWING 70 [BUTTERFLY]
Baarn, March 1948
Ink and watercolour
Preparatory drawing:
Visions of Symmetry, page 114.
Discussed in: Art and Science (re: coloration), pages 120 and 393.
Related graphic work:
Butterflies, June 1950 (cat. 369).

Escher notes on the drawing ‘triangle-system I B3 type 2 (See also no. 79)’, referring to a subsequent (1950) drawing, a variation of this in both underlying tessellation system and of drawing.
A very pleasing, high-quality butterfly motif, of which the resemblance to a real-life example is unmistakable, with the tapering effect of the wings from top to bottom portrayed most splendidly, giving an anatomically correct appearance (although the wings are a little asymmetrical).

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, three colours: red, blue and green. Escher can quite obviously be seen to have taken considerable care and attention over both of these aspects, and this is an example of the top echelon of such exactitude. The coloration per se of the butterflies, with coloured dots of the other two colours of the composition arranged in a systematic manner results in a most pleasing effect. The rendition is particularly fastidious, with fine detail involving the veining of the wings resulting in a most realistic motif. Therefore, both of these elements combine to give a particularly high quality tessellation. Of interest is to compare both of these aspects with an earlier butterfly, Drawing 18, of which the difference in quality of finish for roughly comparable outlines is pronounced.
G.C. Shephard (above) discusses the mathematics of the coloration, giving an example with seven colours, and suggesting that if Escher had known this, then this would have been preferred. However, Shephard neglects the practical aspect, as his colouring scheme would entail a considerable increase of motifs, of a time consuming nature, that in Escher's day, although possible would not thus be a practical proposition. Certainly, with the computers of today, such a large number of motifs of necessity would not be a hindrance to such a scheme. Shephard’s arbitrary patch shown does not repeat each orientation of the butterfly, resulting in the colouring scheme not being shown to its best advantage.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

DRAWING 71 [TWELVE BIRDS]
Baarn, April 1948
India ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 22.
Related graphic work:
Sun and Moon, April 1948 (cat. 357). Liberation, April 1955 (cat. 400).

Escher notes on the drawing that this consists of ’12 [bird] motifs of various forms; all are repeated in mirror image (glide reflection), more or less according to system VC’, thereby establishing the premise of the tessellation. In contrast to the preceding drawings, which generally consist of either one or two motifs, Escher here appears to have made a conscious attempt to considerably improve on such relatively few distinct motifs, as this has no less than twelve distinct birds. Without doubt, Escher must have set himself the challenge, not necessarily of twelve motifs per se, but of a decided leap in their number. Undoubtedly, he admirably succeeds in this matter, as overwhelmingly the motifs are generally on a par with his usual standards, albeit two of these are marginally inferior. However, this is a minor quibble, of which, by the sheer number of high quality motifs thus pales into relative insignificance.
Such a large number of motifs for the outlines thus demonstrates how relatively easy bird motifs are to compose, due to their inherent ambiguity of outline (as discussed in my Essay 3,
Motif Choice, Birds). In contrast, a tessellation of, say, a comparable number of human figures would result in too many gross distortions to be of an acceptable worth. Ideally, Escher would also have composed a fish example of the same type, thus forming a ‘unifying’ pair, as these are another motif of similar relative ease, of which was obviously well within his capabilities, as these are thus equally suitable in theory, of which such an example would have nicely complemented the birds.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: red and grey. A considered, high quality coloration and rendition, with shading suggesting three dimensions, with a black outline.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

DRAWING 72 [FISH/BOAT]
Baarn, December 1948
Coloured pencil and ink
Related graphic work: [New Year's greeting card, 1949, L. and K. Asselbergs], 1948 (cat. 360).

Escher notes on the drawing ‘2 motifs, transitional system IA-IAA; See nos.18, 22, 29, 30’ referring to the underlying tessellation system and not the motifs themselves, albeit coincidentally Drawing 30 is also of a boat and fish (of which the underlining presumably signifies this).
As both motifs have a natural connection to each other, i.e. of water, this tessellation is of a pleasing, unifying theme. However, in this instance, the boat and fish are inherently of different scales, and thereby not ideal, albeit such matters are obviously impossible in this particular situation.
As regards the aesthetics of the motifs, the fish is somewhat contrived, albeit in contrast the boat is surprisingly good, especially so for an inanimate motif. The boat portrayed is typical of those berthed around the
Mediterranean, examples of which appear in Escher's prints of the period.
An aspect of note here is this is the first usage of a white delineating line around the outlines, and furthermore of considerable unit thickness, far exceeding the previous black lines. An obvious question to ask is to why Escher so chose to do this. Presumably, this was for an experiment, or even for just a change, and thereby seeing if such an effect is a variation or improvement. For whatever reasons, although Escher did indeed use this on two further occasions, with Drawings 79 and 94, he did not essentially continue in this matter, probably for reasons of practicality, as it is far simpler to draw a black line than to have a white one, as no ink is opaque enough for a ‘pure’ white line.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, essentially minimal, brown and multi-coloured. An interesting aspect to the coloration and rendition is that for essentially the first time (discounting the shells of drawing 42) the (fish) motif is of a multi-coloured nature, with a basic blue body supplemented by brown and green tail and fins. As such, this is a pleasant change from the essentially monochrome colourings of previous drawings, albeit there are drawbacks to this, in terms of discerning the motif, as discussed in Essay 8,
Coloration and Contrasts.
Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 73 [FLYING FISH]
Baarn, July 1949
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Predestination, January 1951 (cat. 372).

Curiously, this sheet of paper has two drawings on it, of which although not a unique procedure (see Drawings 47 and 48; 49 and 50) is not a common feature of his work. Furthermore, these are of the same symmetry, albeit of different motifs, which thus suggests a connection. Escher notes on the drawing ‘system IA See 38, 74 and system IA See 38, 73’, respectively of each drawing, this referring to the same symmetry system and not the motif. However, a more direct connection between the motifs is not readily discernible.
A somewhat fanciful portrayal of a flying fish, with the dual shortcoming of the fish’s mouth and head being somewhat contrived.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: black and white. Minor rendition - somewhat carelessly, Escher missed adding interior detail to two of the motifs (black fish, top of first ‘complete’ column, and lower black fish, first incomplete column.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 74 [BIRD]
Baarn, July 1949
Ink and watercolour
Related graphic work:
Predestination, January 1951 (cat. 372). Plate I Regelmatige vlakverderling, June 1957 (cat. 416).
Other related work: Tiled column in the Nieuwe Meisjesschool (New Girls’ School), (renamed Johanna Westermanschool),
The Hague, June 1959. Porcelain tiles, ‘cloisonné’ style, by Porceleyne Fles (Delft). (Pictured page 303).
The second motif on the same sheet of paper, as detailed above. The bird motif is somewhat contrived, with the body particularly inelegant with much anatomical incorrectness. Furthermore, the wings are shown attached to the body of a small joining, again anatomically incorrectly.
Escher used this drawing on no less than three occasions (above), somewhat disproportionate as to its inherent quality.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: black and white. Minor rendition.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

DRAWING 75 [LIZARD]
Baarn, July 1949
India ink, pencil, black and white poster paint
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 36.

Although somewhat fanciful, the lizard-like motif is pleasing as all of its elements are in broad proportion to each other, as well as being fully articulated. Furthermore, both front and hind legs are each individually of the same length, thereby raising this in quality from others that is not so well proportioned.
An aspect of note is that concerning the symmetry, whereby for the first time a simple rotation about the mid points of a rhombus occurs. This is similar in nature to the very earliest drawings, albeit paradoxically these are more complex than this later one.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: black and white. Minor rendition.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 76 [HORSE/BIRD]
Baarn, September 1949
Coloured pencil, ink and watercolour
Related graphic work: see comments for 76A.

Escher noted on the drawing ‘2 motifs, system IV, variant 2 (the points where 6 motifs come together lie in this case at the vertices of a rhombus; this is not necessary) (Instead of A, B can also arise)’ this referring to how different lattices can produce this, of which Escher illustrates in schematic form below the main drawing. Curiously, this has a variation, drawing 76A (discussed below), whereby both motifs can face the same direction, instead of both left and right as here.
Although this drawing is not of the highest quality, as both motifs are somewhat contrived, this still has merit as it consists of two distinct motifs, a more difficult type to achieve, and is fully articulated, and so consequently the occasional shortcoming can to be overlooked. Additionally, as both motifs are inherently of different sizes, a disparity of scale thus arises, albeit of course this is unavoidable.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: light brown and light blue. A relatively considered coloration and rendition with a black outline, which effectively enhances the tessellation.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 8 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 76A [HORSE/BIRD]
[Baarn, September 1949]
Pencil
Related graphic work:
Horses and Birds, September 1949 (cat. 363). Metamorphosis III, 1967-1968 (cat. 446)

Although this cannot be considered a ‘proper’ tessellation, in that it contains only a fragmentary sketch of two motifs, as Escher has indeed given this a number it is thus included for discussion purposes. Essentially, this can be regarded as an off-shoot of Drawing 76, in which here Escher shows a possible variation concerning the motifs, in which these are shown all facing the same direction, whilst in contrast the other drawing has the motifs in two opposite directions.

Coloration and Rendition
Not discussed, as due to the inherently sketchy nature such comments would be inappropriate.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 10 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 77 [REPTILE]
Les Diablerets, August 1949
India ink, coloured ink, coloured pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 6.

Escher notes on the drawing ‘system VIB (see no. 36)’, this referring to the same symmetry system used and not the motif. As the motif is highly fanciful, this is thus a tessellation of inherently lower tariff. However, the motif remains believable, with very good articulation.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: blue and light green. A considered coloration and rendition, disproportionate as to the motifs inherent quality.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 10 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 78 [UNICORN]
Baarn, October 1950
Coloured pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 72.
Related graphic work: [New Year’s greeting card, 1951, L. and K. Asselbergs], October 1950 (cat. 371).

Escher notes (in the form of a query) on the drawing that this a ‘new system?’, as it does not belong to any he has investigated. Of note is that this is beyond all reasonable doubt a rare instance of a specially designed tessellation, in contrast to Escher usual procedure of ‘free experimentation’. This was occasioned by a commission from L. and K. Asselbergs, the owners of The Unicorn Press, of which this unicorn was surely composed for this purpose. Escher used this for a greeting card, making subtle changes to better fit the format.
Although fanciful, this is better than most of this type, as the elements of the motif are more easily recognisable, and furthermore are in proportion. Indeed, an exemplary example of the quality that is possible.
Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, three colours: red, yellow and greenish-grey. A considered coloration and rendition, with shading to suggest three dimensions, with a black outline.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005.Typo correction 24 November 2006. Revised 30 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 79 [THREE-COLOUR BUTTERFLY]
Baarn, October 1950
Watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 82.
Related work: Coloured circular design with butterflies, c. 1950.
Preparatory drawing:
Magic, page 76.

Escher notes on the drawing ‘triangle-system I B3 type 2 (variant of no. 70)’, of which the main difference concerns that of the colouring, this being of a more complex mathematical nature for its own intrinsic sake.
Another aspect to this is that Escher employs a
white delineating line, in contrast to black, albeit there appears to be no specific reason as to its necessity.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, three colours (in combination): yellow, light brown and dark brown. Each butterfly is coloured in three elements of body, upper and lower wings, with the lower wing colour also appearing as coloured dots on the upper wing. From this, secondary effects of coloured circles appear (better seen if the drawing is viewed from a longer distance than of normal reading), reminiscent of his abstract studies of interlacing circles. Minor rendition of shading to suggest three dimensions.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005

 


DRAWING 80 [FLYING FISH/BIRD]
Baarn, November 1950
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 62.
Related graphic work:
Predestination, January 1951 (cat. 372). Plate I Regelmatige vlakverderling, June 1957 (cat. 416).

Escher notes on the drawing ‘system IA; combination of 73 and 74 [under three motifs shown] congruent forms’, these motifs ‘adapted’ to the outline. This tessellation is interesting not due to the quality per se but of the idea, namely that of an outline that is so ambiguous that it suffices for two distinct motifs, and is shown in combination in the main drawing, and also illustrated separately below the main drawing. Such examples are very difficult to compose for obvious reasons, and therefore where such occur these are thus of more interest than with a more orthodox tessellation. Consequently, due to the dual demands the motifs are not necessarily of the highest quality, as these motifs indeed show, albeit still of a recognisable nature.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, two colours: black and white.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005

 


DRAWING 81 [BAT/BEE/BIRD/BUTTERFLY]
Baarn, December 1950
Ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 11.
Related work: Design for ceiling of Demonstration Laboratory, Phillips Company,
Eindhoven, May 1951.
Escher notes on the drawing ‘4-motifs system, symmetric, related to VIIID’, a somewhat bald statement that does not do justice to a drawing of a unifying theme, of flight. Possibly, Escher thought that this was so obvious that recording such matters would be superfluous, hence the lack of detail.
This tessellation is based upon a theme of flight, with four motifs of an appropriate type. Such specific motifs were chosen for the purpose of being viewed in an upward direction (on the ceiling) upon the completion of the subsequent finished work emanating from the drawing (above).
In itself, this is innovative in that the motifs are not of a strictly tessellation nature, as for reasons of expediency Escher has ‘adjusted’, or applied ‘wriggle room’ to the motifs outlines for the sake of a more true to life motif. This is more noticeable with some motifs than others, for example with the butterflies’ tail and the bats head, whilst conversely the bats lower region does not require such adjustment.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, non-minimum, four colours: pale red, pale blue, pale yellow and white (unstated). Due to the way that Escher has composed this, a single colour would suffice. However, as the motifs appear in four distinct orientations, although minimal he chose four colours to better emphasise the number of motifs. A considered rendition, with fine detail.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 10 August 2012

 


DRAWING 82 [BIRD/FISH]
Baarn, February 1951
Ink and watercolour
Related work: Design for tile tableau for house in
Amsterdam, 1960. Porcelain tiles by Porceleyne Fles (Delft); square tiles 213 x 213 mm, mural 170 x 280 cm (approx.).

Both motifs have shortcomings due to their contrived nature, with the bird’s body being unnaturally twisted, whilst the fish is poorly defined, the upper fin not essentially being distinct from the body, along with the lower right fin being anatomically incorrectly placed too near the tail.
Due to the inherent low quality, it is perhaps surprising that Escher chose this for further work (above), as he has far superior drawings of the same combination of motifs that could have been used instead.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: grey and off-white. A somewhat muted choice of colours. Minor rendition, of interior and black outline.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 10 August 2012


DRAWING 83 [THIRTY-SIX DIFFERENT MOTIFS]
Baarn, March 1951
Pencil and chalk
Related graphic work:
Plane Filling I, March 1951 (cat. 373).

Escher notes on the drawing ‘Free plane-filling, based on rectangular system, with 36 different motifs. (design for mezzotint)’. Consequently, Escher here sets himself with a challenge, in which he revisits a previous idea of composing a tessellation with multiple motifs, of birds (Drawing 71) but with a new type, namely with no restriction as to choice and number of motifs. Strictly speaking, this is shown not as a tessellation, as there is no repeating unit, although this could have indeed been made as such. As such, the motifs are highly fanciful, essentially of necessity due to the demands of the idea. Although this could have been shown as a tessellation Escher chose not to do so, as if so attempted, the motifs would have been of relatively poor standard, possibly unacceptably so. As this is then, in Escher's own words, a 'free plane filling...', the motifs extremities around the border thus have more freedom in that greater attention can be paid to their veracity, as there is more room to manoeuvre.

Coloration and Rendition
In contrast to the other numbered drawings, this was intended as a study for a print, hence the detailed rendition (and mirror image date and monogram), of which coloration therefore has no place. Consequently, as the print is of a highly rendered nature, the drawing is thus shown in a similar degree of quality.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005. Minor reworking 23 November 2006

 

 

DRAWING 84 [BIRD/FISH]
Baarn, April 1951
India ink and coloured pencil
Preparatory drawing:
Magic, page 73.
Related graphic work: [Plane-filling motif with Fish and Bird], 1951. Linoleum cut (cat. 376).
Other related work: Design for bank-note background, c. 1952 (unexecuted). Design for intarsia panels in sycamore and mahogany cabinet doors, local telephone bureau,
Amsterdam, February 1954. Pencil and watercolour.
Escher notes on the drawing ‘2 motifs transitional system IB-IA Variant of 29 characterised solely by contour lines’. Although Escher states that this is a variation of Drawing 29, presumably of the outlines, as Drawing 29 is of a different system (IA-IA), considerable differences between the two are self-evident. These are more extreme than a variation in the normal meaning of the word, of which this could thus justifiably be regarded as indeed distinct.
Although not stated on the drawing itself, this is the
first in a series of three (the others being 92 and 93, of which Escher notes the other two drawings) for the related work as above (of intarsia panels).
As regards the motifs, the influence of a previous drawing, Drawing 30 is effectively replayed here, with the fins of a spiky nature. In contrast to most of his drawings where the interior design is shown in relative detail, at least of contemporary drawings, this is noticeably lacking, with a bare minimum of detail, especially of the bird. Presumably, this was intended, as the subsequent work for the panels as detailed above reflect this lack of detail. Of interest is to just why Escher so chose to include such spiky aspects, as these could have been simplified as with other bird and fish motifs. Possibly, he was simply trying out the effect, as a change from the usual presentation. Alternatively, as the bird motif does indeed possess similar lines, in the form of serrations of both wings and tail, this was thus introduced to reflect this, albeit in a real-life bird these are of a much finer nature than these obviously simplified lines. Additionally, this appears unlikely, as the interior detail does not reflect such attention to detail as would be thought if he had this in mind.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours, black and off-white. Minor rendition, almost of a casual manner. Cross-hatching in a ‘rough and ready’ way represents the scales of the fish. Although the bird motif does possess a rendition of sorts, to all intents and purposes this is non-existent, as it can barely be detected.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005

 

 

DRAWING 85 [LIZARD/FISH/BAT]
Baarn, April 1952
Ink, pencil and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 21.
Related work: Surface design on cardboard rhombic dodecahedron, 1952. Surface design for carved ivory sphere, May 1963.
Escher notes on the drawing ‘triangle system: 3 motifs, each with one colour. (variation – improvement of 69)’, a bald statement that does not do justice to the underlying concept, namely of the three elements, of air, water and earth, with appropriate motifs. Escher here explicitly revisits a previous theme, as first espoused by Drawing 69, of which he notes this as a ‘variation-improvement of 69’. However, quite what this refers to is unclear, as the motifs of the respective drawings are noticeably different, and furthermore the representation of air has been changed from a bird to a bat. Schattschneider considers that this terminology refers to the motifs being more in proportion to an underlying rhombus, of which the motifs do indeed contain more succinctly. However, other possibilities include a more detailed rendition, along with a brighter colouring than the less relatively detailed, muted colouring of drawing 69. Consequently, as this notably differs in many aspects from Drawing 69, to regard this as a variation is surely false. Quite simply, it should be regarded as a drawing in its own right.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, red, yellow and blue. Possibly for maximum contrast, Escher chose to use (so-called) primary colours of the furthest (equal) spacing around the colour wheel. A high quality rendition is shown, perhaps disproportionately so considering the relatively no more than acceptable quality of motif.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005

 


DRAWING 86 [BUG]
Baarn, July 1952
Coloured pencil, ink and watercolour
Preparatory drawing:
Magic, page 72.
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 56.
Related graphic work: [New Year’s greeting card,
Eugène and Willy Strens, 1953], October 1952 (cat. 382).

Escher notes on the drawing ‘system VIIID and IXD (improvement of no. 39)’, this referring to the motif. Escher here explicitly revisits an earlier tessellating idea of drawing 39, of which the motif in that drawing is adapted to the confines of a square rather than the previous rectangle. Presumably, what Escher means by ‘improvement’ is that the motif is now symmetric, of which whilst the previous example appeared to be so at a casual glance, this was in fact illusory, and not so. Perhaps more correctly this should be regarded as a variation, as improvement arguably suggests a change to the drawing itself (as Escher himself stated when he ‘improved’ earlier drawings). Whatever the terminology, improvement/variation does indeed occur, due to the symmetry of the motif, and not due to any other reason, such as the rendition, as the respective renditions are comparable.
A pleasing feature is the articulation, with segmentation of the antenna and legs, notoriously difficulty with such creatures with hair-like appendages, this thus reflecting a real-life bug, thereby effectively enhancing the tessellations portrayal in this matter.

Coloration and Rendition
Three-dimensional, minimum, two colours: blue and reddish brown. A high quality rendition, with shading to suggest each individual segment of the antenna and legs. As with Drawing 39, examples of this type, where the extremities splay out from the body, are notoriously difficult to discern (of which Escher noted in
Regelmatige vlakverdeling), as this tessellation shows. Ideally, a defining black line around the motif should have been used to improve this aspect, and not the almost incidental thin line as shown.
Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 10 August 2012

 


DRAWING 87 [TWO BIRDS]
Baarn, July 1952
Ink and watercolour
Preparatory drawing:
Magic, page 163.
Related graphic work: [New Year’s greeting card,
Eugène and Willy Strens, 1954], October 1952 (cat. 383).
In style, this is somewhat similar the bird motifs of Drawing 84, as the same serrated idea for the wings and tail is used. Arguably, this is a better example to so use, as this consists solely of birds rather than birds and fishes, the latter of which is a motif perhaps not so suitable. Indeed, both wings and tail are ideal, and as this thus leads to a more accurate representation of a bird, such a portrayal is to be favoured where possible. However, Escher's example is rather simple, in effect a broad statement of the principle.
Oddly, both birds interior contain only a modicum of detail, consisting solely of an eye and a line for the beak – quite why he did not add more detail, as was his usual practise is unclear. In contrast, the related graphic work (above) shows more detail, in that a body is shown.
Another oddity is that upon delineating the motifs with a thin black line, he then added a thicker one to the front edge of the wings, resulting in a most unedifying drawing. Quite what he was aiming for with this is unclear.

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

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Typo correction 23 November 2006

 

 

DRAWING 88 [SEAHORSE]
Baarn, end of 1952
Ink and watercolour
Concept drawing:
Visions of Symmetry, page 308.
Related work: Design for damask table linen manufactured by E. J. F. van Dissel & Zonen,
Eindhoven, February 1954.

Escher notes on the drawing ‘system IIIA (see 11)’ this referring to the motif (which is alike) and not the tessellation system (which is not). Escher here effectively revisits a previous drawing, using the seahorse motif for a different system. As such, the motifs are very much alike, the main difference being this later one is of a slightly simpler nature, in that it can be coloured in two colours instead of the preceding three of Drawing 11. Another difference is that this uses the ‘feathery’ appearance of recent bird and fish motifs reflecting real life.
The somewhat ‘spoiling’ square grid patch superimposed upon this was probably added in conjunction with the related work (above).

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two contrasts of the same colour, light and dark blue. No rendition.

Created c. 2005. Last updated 14 November 2005

 

 

DRAWING 89 [FISH]
Baarn, September 1953
India ink, pencil and watercolour
Concept drawing:
Visions of Symmetry, page 308.
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 44.
Related work: Design for damask table linen manufactured by E. J. F. van Dissel & Zonen,
Eindhoven, February 1954.

In contrast to the overwhelming majority of Escher's tessellations whereby a straightforward repetition of the motifs is shown, he here shows two different possibilities side by side, with the composition divided by a implied diagonal from top left to bottom right. Although either of the fishes can be said to be derived from the other, it is more correct to assume that the ‘feathery-finned’ fish arose as a variation of their less exotic counterparts. Consequently, although related, the question arises as to whether such examples should be regarded as distinct or worthy of being drawings in their own right. In this instance, Escher chose not to show distinct drawings but instead combined the two types in a single composition. Which of the motifs is ‘best’ is subjective, as the fish are of a stylised manner, a flatfish type, of a lower tariff of difficulty. Both have pros and cons – the ‘non-feathery finned’ fish could be regarded as somewhat ordinary and plain, whilst the feathery one, although ‘livelier’ is anatomically open to question as regards veracity. Although Escher did not state explicitly which he preferred, as the related work (above) shows the ordinary one this was thus presumably favoured.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two colours: two-tone, dark and pale green. No rendition.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005. Minor revision 14 August 2012

 

 

DRAWING 90 [FISH]
Baarn, September 1953
Ink and watercolour
Discussed in:
Symmetry Aspects, page 34.

This essentially is a variation of the flatfishes of Drawing 89, and quite why Escher chose to do this is unclear, as the differences between the two are most small. Precisely, the underlying grid has been changed from a kite to a quadrilateral, along with an increase in the number of distinct lines, from two to four. Of most notice is that the fish no longer meet nose to centre of tail but nose to outside of tail. Consequently, due to the changes, the fish is thus non-symmetrical, of which for a flatfish type is an inferior portrayal.

Coloration and Rendition
Flat, minimum, two-tone: dark and pale crimson. No rendition.

Created c. 2005. Updated 14 November 2005

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