DAME LUCIE RIE An Impressive Footed Bowl, 1970s



An Impressive Footed Bowl
porcelain with a manganese and sgraffito decoration
height: 10cm.; 4in. diameter: 22.5cm.; 9in.
Executed circa the 1970s.

Price Available Upon Request

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Christie's, London, June 18, 1990, lot 128
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Further works available by makers including Hans Coper and Jennifer Lee. Please enquire.

Few individuals have had such a profound impact over the course of a specific school, style of medium as Lucie Rie had over studio ceramics. Through her decorative and functional work she is celebrated as one of the greatest potters of the past century not only in Britain, but all around the world.

B orn in Vienna in 1902 Rie grew up in an environment steeped in the style and elegance of Viennese Modernism, but following the Anschluss and the union of Austria with Nazi Germany fled Vienna for London. The Britain that Rie arrived into was a world away from her home, both socially and in terms of the artistic environment. British studio pottery was dominated by the work and writings of Bernard Leach, who looked back to the historic craft tradition or further afield to the Japanese aesthetic, influenced in part by his close friend Shoji Hamada. Rie grappled with this very alien approach and despite her efforts could not divorce herself from the European and Modernist ideals that she had learnt on the continent.

Following the war, in which she produced glass and ceramic buttons to survive, Rie set up her own studio in Albion Mews, North London – an address which was to remain her home for the rest of her life. It was to Albion Mews that another European émigré Hans Coper headed when he arrived in London, soon becoming apprentice and studio assistant to Rie, and beginning what was to remain a lifelong friendship. Together they worked on stylish yet functional ceramics which were sold in leading department stores in London and New York.

Just as the broader art scene in London shifted in the early 1960s, so too did Rie’s work, with the introduction of thickly textured glazes and, by the 1970s, pinks and blues which served to emphasise the elegance of her thrown forms. Rie experimented further with glazes, pushing the boundaries with fantastically detailed and painterly ‘knitted’ designs, which have all the gestural expression of a painting by Pollock of de Kooning, and her bright and brilliant bowls topped with luscious wrinkled bronze rims. But it is her sgraffito work for which Rie is perhaps most celebrated – as seen here in this stunning example from the 1970s. Inspired by a visit to the ancient site of Avebury in Wiltshire, and the Bronze Age pottery she saw there, Rie worked with an extremely fine needle on the leather-hard clay, resulting in exquisite designs that were met with immediate approval from collectors.

Rie’s work was celebrated extensively during her lifetime, from the 1951 Festival of Britain Exhibition, through to major retrospectives in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts in Norwich. The ceramics that she produced, whether the stylish domestic wares of the 1950s of the eye-catching bronzed bowls of the 1970s and ‘80s helped to elevate the position of ceramics to that of the fine arts, paving the way for a later generation of artists, potters, ceramicists and makers, and leaving behind a rich ceramic legacy.

For all enquires, please contact Julia.Fischel@sothebys.com

Currently Available for Private Sale

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