Reptiles (M. C. Escher)

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Escher's Reptiles.jpg
ArtistM. C Escher
Dimensions33.4 cm × 38.5 cm (13.1 in × 15.2 in)

Reptiles is a lithograph print by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher first printed in March 1943.[1] It touches on the theme found in much of his work of mathematics in art.


Reptiles depicts a desk upon which is a 2D drawing of a tessellated pattern of reptiles and hexagons, Escher's 1939 Regular Division of the Plane.[2][3][1] The reptiles at one edge of the drawing emerge into three dimensional reality, come to life and appear to crawl over a series of symbolic objects (a book on nature, a geometer's triangle, a three dimensional dodecahedron, a pewter bowl containing a box of matches and a box of cigarettes) to eventually re-enter the drawing at its opposite edge. Other objects on the desk are a potted cactus and yucca, a ceramic flask with a cork stopper next to a small glass of liquid, a book of JOB cigarette rolling papers, and an open handwritten note book of many pages. Although only the size of small lizards, the reptiles have protruding crocodile-like fangs, and the one atop the dodecahedron has a dragon-like puff of smoke billowing from its nostrils.

Once a woman telephoned Escher and told him that she thought the image was a "striking illustration of reincarnation".[1]

The critic Steven Poole commented that one of Escher's "enduring fascinations" was "the contrast between the two-dimensional flatness of a sheet of paper and the illusion of three-dimensional volume that can be created with certain marks" when space and flatness exist side-by-side and are "each born from and returning to the other, the black magic of the artistic illusion made creepily manifest."[4]

In popular culture[edit]

A colorized version of the lithograph was used by the rock band Mott the Hoople as the sleeve artwork for its eponymous first album, released in 1969.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Reptiles in Wartime". Escher in het Paleis. 3 March 2018.
  2. ^ Locher 1971, pp. 8, 15, 18, cf. also 78, 83, 85, 89.
  3. ^ Locher 2006, p. 74.
  4. ^ Poole, Steven (20 June 2015). "The impossible world of MC Escher". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ Coulthart, John (2013-02-07). "MC Escher album covers". Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2015.


External links[edit]