Amsterdam International Antiquarian Book & Map Fair

Selected Highlights


Antiquariaat Acanthus
Achter Sint Pieter 180
3512 HT Utrecht
The Netherlands


Iris M. van Daalen


+31(030) 231 49 49 +31(030) 231 49 49



PROOFCOPY - Escher's first exhibited work - The copy of the author
M.C. ESCHER - Drijfhout, A.E. (=G.J. Hoogewerff). [PROOFCOPY] - XXIV Emblemata, dat zijn zinne-beelden. 27 Original woodcuts by M.C. Escher, all loose and in uncut sheets (tipped in, under contemporary paper passe-partouts), all signed within the plate and 21 extra signed in pencil by M.C. Escher with his full name. The title sheet is uniquely printed in gold on beige paper (ca. 23 x 20 cm.) and 26 plates (various small differing sizes) are printed on thin white Japanese paper.

An unrecorded, unique collection of proofs, formerly in the possession of the art historian G.J. Hoogewerff (1884-1963), the author and initiator of this Emblemata project of Escher. 12 Plates of the 'Emblemata', possibly from this copy, were also the first exhibited works of Escher in a museum, from February - March 1932. Hoogewerff played a crucial role in the personal and artistic life of M.C. Escher (1898-1972). Escher lived and worked in Rome between 1924 and 1935 and Hoogewerff was the director of the Dutch Historical Institute in Rome from 1924 to 1950. Around 1930 Escher became quite depressed, struggling with health problems, lack of inspiration, lack of interest in his work and financial difficulties, all of which lead him to contemplate to end his artistic career altogether. Hoogewerff revived Escher with the suggestion of a partnership production of a series of 'emblemata', being allegorical illustrations with an accompanying explanatory text, captioned by a Latin motto. Thus using a traditional form and at the same time creating something new. Hoogewerff wrote the text under the pseudonym of A.E. Drijfhout and Escher made the woodcuts.
And, perhaps even more important, Hoogewerff played a significant role in Escher's recognition as a graphic artist. He was the first well-known art historian who wrote a lengthy 18 pp. article on Escher's work, published in the leading Dutch artistic literary journal Elseviers Geïllustreerd Maandschrift of october 1931. In it he also favourably discusses the Emblemata. A few month later, in February - March 1932, possibly through connections of Hoogewerff, Escher had his first exhibition in the 'Haags Gemeente Museum'. He showed there for the first time his graphic work with 10 plates, the title and the content page of the Emblemata, in the group exhibition 'Moderne Nederlandsche Houtsneden. Februari-Maart 1932'. The Emblemata, the actual book was finally published nearly half a year later in the summer of 1932 by C.A.J. van Dishoeck in Bussum. The total edition of the book was 300 copies, of which 25 copies with the plates signed in pencil, with initials only, and numbered with a justification stamp. All copies of the edition, including the 25 'special' copies were printed on beige 'Van Gelder simili-Japan' paper.
The title is laid loose in one of the passe-partouts and discoloured in the margin. All of the prints hung on two discol. paper tapes under the passe-partout. All plates some (vague) foxing, mostly in margins, 3 also within the plate, however - A unique set. Our print series, the result of a communal work of Hoogewerff and Escher plays a key role in M.C. Escher's oeuvre. It brought him his first recognition as an artist and prevented him from ending his career.
Cf. (the standard edition of the 'Emblemata':) Bool nrs. 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185; Landwehr, J. Emblem books Low Countries, 145; Praz, 320; (on Hoogewerff's relation with Escher & the Emblemata:) Locher, J.L (ed.). Leven en Werk van M.C. Escher, p. 35-36; article Hoogewerff 'M.C. Escher, Grafisch kunstenaar' in: Elsevier's geïllustreerd maandschrift, Vol. 42, Oct. 1931, pp. 227-235, and plates, illustrated; (First exhib. cat. with work by Escher:) Knuttel, G. (introd.), 'Moderne Nederlandsche Houtsneden. Februari-Maart 1932. 5de Tentoonstelling uit het Prenten-Kabinet', (Den Haag, Gemeentemuseum), p. 7 and 10, dating the prints '1931'.
Exhibitor: Antiquariaat Acanthus

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