Known for its world-class museums, we were spoilt for choice when it came to deciding where we should go to get our cultural fix in The Hague. In search of something a little less conventional than the fifteenth to eighteenth century Dutch paintings on show at Mauritshuis, we made our way instead to Escher in Het Paleis, the former winter palace of Queen Emma of The Netherlands which now houses a permanent exhibition of the work of M.C. Escher, the Dutch artist known for his playful use of perspective and perception.
We were treated to an impressive collection of prints showcasing Escher’s trademark tessellations of geometric patterns, optical illusions as well as depictions of impossible realities such as ‘Climbing and Descending’ which follows rows of people on an endless winding stairway that simultaneously ascends and descends. More surprising were some lesser-known works including nature-inspired prints and Italian landscapes. Perhaps the most impressive work in the museum is ‘Metamorphosis III’, an intricate 7-metre long woodcut displayed in the round. The work engages the imagination and captures beautifully some of the recurring themes in Escher’s work – time, space, infinity and fantasy.
I was first introduced to the world of Escher in art class at high school and it appealed to me right away. So I was excited to finally be able to see some of Escher’s original works in his homeland of The Netherlands. Housed in a former palace which is a landmark in itself, you get a two-for-one-deal when you visit the Escher Museum. The original royal ambience of the Palace is well maintained with some of the original furniture and fixtures in place. It makes a nice setting for viewing Escher’s work, which was amazing to see in person. The amount of detail in the drawings is extraordinary. Such great imagination!
The works are spread out over several levels and there are hundreds of drawings and prints to view. The thing that I like most about Escher’s work is his play on perspective. So I especially enjoyed the interactive displays that let you get a hands-on experience of what it’s like to be in a Escher drawing. A room designed as a perspective box let’s you discover how lines and space can create the illusion of being larger or smaller. There’s even a photographer to capture the moment. We had fun experimenting and watching other museum-goers pose. The photo makes a great souvenir as well.
Escher in Het Paleis
Lange Voorhout 74, 2514 The Hague