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.