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What is this?

Square linen damask napkin with a cross-shaped pattern with sting rays in the center, interlocking dark and light seahorses forming the largest part of the design, and three interlocking fish in each corner.

Why is this important?

Maurits Cornelius Escher is best known for his complex illusionary drawings. Escher’s work, which plays with interlocking forms and the seamless use of positive and negative space, is executed here in linen damask, a technique in which two surfaces, one shiny and one matte, are literally the face and reverse of the same satin weave.
Trained as a graphic artist, Escher developed a deep interest in mathematics. He read numerous texts on geometry and crystallography, and developed his own concept, which he referred to as the “regular division of the plane.” This involved filling the entire plane with interlocking figures, which features prominently in Escher’s work after 1937. In everyday use, a napkin may be folded vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, and Escher’s design is fittingly symmetrical around all of those axes. The white-on-white design, entirely dependent on reflectivity to be seen, further enhances the intrigue and complexity of the visual experience.

This is a napkin from Netherlands. It is dated ca. 1954 and we acquired it in 1985. Museum purchase from Alice Baldwin Beer Memorial Fund.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ This object is currently resting in our storage facility.

Its medium is

medium: linen technique: 4\1 satin damask label: linen satin damask

Its dimensions are

H x W: 48.9 × 51.4 cm (19 1/4 × 20 1/4 in.)

This object was manufactured by E.F.J. Van Dissel and Son and designed by Maurits Cornelis Escher

This object was purchased from C.A. Burgers and catalogued by Milton Sonday

See more stuff from the Textiles department.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=http://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18805545/ |title=Napkin, Fish, ca. 1954 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 March 2015 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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