M.C. Escher (Dutch, June 17, 1898–March 27, 1972) was an artist who was known for his elaborate lithographs, woodcuts, and mezzotints. His best-known works include Drawing Hands, Ascending and Descending, and Sky and Water. Escher was born Maurits Cornelis Escher in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. The Eschers moved to Arnhem in 1903. Escher attended primary school and secondary school in Arnhem. As a child, he was frequently sick and attended a special school. Escher had poor grades, but was skilled at drawing.
In 1919, he enrolled at the Harlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. Initially, Escher attended the school to study architecture. However, after failing a number of subjects at the school, he changed his focus to decorative arts. After switching majors, Escher studied under Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita (Dutch, June 6, 1868–February 11, 1944). Escher left school in 1922 after gaining experience creating woodcuts and drawings. Escher then traveled to Italy and Spain. During his stay in Spain, he visited Alhambra, a Moorish castle. The designs he saw at Alhambra were based on mathematical formulas, and these designs heavily influenced Escher's own creations. In 1924, he married Jetta Umiker. The newlyweds moved to Rome and had a son. Escher decided to move his family to Switzerland in 1935 due to his distaste for the political climate in Italy.
In 1936, Escher began to create artwork based on mathematics. During this period, he became interested in symmetry and order. By 1937, the family decided to move to Brussels, Belgium, because they were not happy in Switzerland. While living in Belgium, Escher started to create woodcuts based on the concept of 17-plane symmetry groups. By 1941, the family was forced to move to the Netherlands due to World War II. Escher stayed in the Netherlands until 1970. During this period, he diligently produced new work, including the book Regular Division of the Plane. During his career, Escher held exhibits of his art all over Holland and Switzerland. Escher had his first United States exhibition in Washington, DC. In 1970, Escher moved to Laren, in the Netherlands, to an artists' retirement home. He died in Laren on March 27, 1972.