Saturday, March 27, 2010

Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita (16 June 1868, Amsterdam - 11 February 1944 (?), Auschwitz) and M. C. Escher

«These days, Jessurun de Mesquita (1868-1944) is known principally for his association with one of his pupils, M.C. Escher. He is also well-known in the Netherlands for his crisp woodcuts of animals in Amsterdam’s Artis zoo. But De Mesquita’s surviving oeuvre is far more varied and innovative than is generally assumed. This first major retrospective in twenty years illustrates the point with drawings, water colours, woodcuts, etchings, paintings and examples of the applied arts.
Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita grew up in the closed world of Amsterdam’s Portuguese(*) Jewish community. He trained at the city’s school of applied arts and state teachers’ training college.»

«With Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands in May, 1940, de Mesquita, already in poor health, was forced to lead a secluded life, limiting his work largely to sketches. In the winter of 1944, on either January 31 or February 1, the occupying German forces entered the home of the de Mesquita family in Watergraafsmeer, now part of Amsterdam, and apprehended him, his wife Elisabeth, and their only son Jaap. Transported to Auschwitz, Samuel Jessurun and Elisabeth were sent to the gas chambers within days of their arrival on February 11; Jaap perished in the concentration camp at Theresienstadt on March 20. Escher and some of Jaap’s friends were successful in rescuing some of the works that had remained in the de Mesquita home.» Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita (Wikipedia)

«Still trying to pursue a career in architecture, M.C. Escher next moved to Haarlem and began studies as the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts. After on a week in the city, he met the artist Jessurun de Mesquita. After seeing Escher's drawings, Mesquita and the school's director advised him to continue with them. He began full-time study of "the graphic and decorative arts" in the fall of 1919. Also at this time, he acquired a white cat as a present from his land-lady. (...) The Nazi persecution of the Jews touched Escher in a very personal way. His old teacher, Samuel de Mesquita, a Jew, was taken away by the Nazis in January of 1944, and was killed. Escher helped to transfer Mesquita's works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He kept for himself a sketch that bore the imprint of a German boot, and kept it with his drawing supplies for the rest of his life. In 1946, he organized a memorial showing for Mesquita at the Stedelijk. Immediately after the war ended, Escher participated in a show of works by artists who had refused to collaborate with the Nazi regime. Afterwards, he earned several new commissions, including one to make 400 copies of one of his prints for distribution to schools.»

Listen Escher about the influence that Mesquita had in his change from architecture to graphic art: Interview part 2 (listen also: Interview part 1 Interview part 3)

No comments: