Escher is famous for his impossible constructions and transformation prints. Most people know his ‘tower of Babel’, ‘Belvedere’, ‘day and night’, ‘drawing hands’, ‘relativity’ and many, many more. All of them are to be admired in the former palace of the Dutch queen Emma in the center of the Hague. And that’s where I went one weekend in 2014.
It not only was delightful to watch those drawings, litho’s and woodcuts, it also was educational. Escher not only is a master of surreal images, he also displays a very excellent study of perspective and symmetry. His works are really geometrically fabulous.
Remembering some difficult angles for drawing, I especially was interested in Escher’s top down perspective.
In Rome I once made a drawing, sitting in castel st. Angelo, looking down on the st. Peter’s basilica of the Vatican. I planned to draw all the roofs, with the basilica in the middle. But I got lost due to the huge amount of roofs.
Escher had dealt with this problem. His woodcut ‘roofs’ is a very good example of how I would have drawn my view from castel st. Angelo. How did he do that?
His drawing ‘Atrani’ (in the left circle below) shows us how. He had drawn lines on the sketch, to make sure everything had the right proportion. His litho ‘Castrovalva’ also reveils a trick (in the right circle below). This trick actually can only be noticed when you place the litho next to a photograph of the original view. You will note that Escher left out some of the houses. I bet the houses were indistinguishable due to their quantity, so drawing veraciously would not make such a beautiful litho.
I’m planning to apply these lessons from Escher one day. I really would want to go back to Rome to redo the drawing. I hope that day will come before I grow too old to hold a pencil. 😀