Maurits Cornelis Escher
Born: June 17, 1898, Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Died: March 27, 1972, Laren, Netherlands

M.C. Escher, world famous left-handed graphic artist, and his unforgettable prints of impossible structures, such as Ascending and Descending, Relativity, and his Transformation Prints, such as Metamorphosis I, II and III are a few of the works that have earned Escher worldwide acclaim and the right to be known as the master of graphic art illusions.

M.C. Escher was born in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. His parents, George Arnold Escher and Sarah Gleichman Escher, had three sons of which Maurits (called Mauk for short) was the youngest. His father, George, was a civil engineer. The family moved to Arnhem when he was five and that is where Escher spent most of his youth.

His health was on and off throughout his life. In 1918, like many geniuses, he failed his high school exams and had trouble relating to the multitude of subjects that a so-called "proper" education throws at you. He did well in anything art related, however, and did receive encouragement from his art teachers.

Escher began private lessons and studies in architecture at the Higher Technology School in Delft. He managed to get a deferment on military service in order to study, but poor health prevented him from keeping up with the curriculum. He was rejected by the military service in 1919, and as a result could not continue school. During this difficult period, Escher did many drawings, and also began using woodcuts as a medium. It was also at this time that his work began to receive favorable reviews in the media.

The first print by M.C. Escher that sold in large numbers was St. Francis (Preaching to the Birds), a woodcut that Escher claimed to have "worked on like a madman." He finished out the year doing some sign work and a few commissioned prints. In 1922, in search of fresh inspiration, he decided to go to Italy.

M.C. Escher met his wife, Jetta Umiker, in Italy and in 1924 they married. Together they settled in Rome, where they stayed for 11 years until 1935. During the Second World War, he drew 62 of the total of 137 Regular Division Drawings he would make in his lifetime.

The biography above was taken mostly from the biography written by Bruno Ernst for the book M.C. Escher - His Life and Complete Graphic Work, © 1981

Footnote: Lifetime production of M.C. Escher - 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and approximately 2000 drawings and sketches.