Covered Alley was Escher’s first commercial wood engraving (He did do one announcement a few months before this one). This differs from a woodcut in that it is cut into end grain wood. End grain is more compact and can cut in any direction easily (compared to side grain wood). This allows for greater detail. Inside St. Peter’s exemplifies the detail and complexity that can go into an engraving.
Covered Alley has always been one of my favorite wood engravings. I love how the simple sets of mostly parallel lines create a rich image of many depths. And for no particular reason, I like how such a black image can show so much with just a few lines.
Escher’s alley is a crossroads of sorts. Which path to choose? I believe every moment of our lives is a choice, and I’m always looking for the best choice, the right choice, the safe choice.
Here we see two paths have light at the end of the tunnel, which is better? Sometimes hindsight tells us, sometimes we never know..
In March of 2015, I had the opportunity to explore the Amalfi Coast. Escher visited Atrani in 1930 and found this alley. My voyage took me to Atrani, as well. As I entered the ocean side town I immediately recognized the street that inspired Escher’s lithograph Dilapidated Houses in Atrani. And as I walked further down the street I saw a sign pointing to Ravello. I said to my wife, “Escher must have walked this very path.”
The path winds uphill through the labyrinthine streets on its way to Ravello (inspiration to a few artworks in itself). At one intersection I looked at an alley going back down toward the town. My gut screamed, “go down there.” As I did my wife hollered, “Where are you going? It says Ravello is this way.”
As I got to the end of the path this very scene came into view. I had found it! I took the photo of the very vantage point Escher used for his work.
This great work is available.
7 1/8 x 5 1/8”