Dame Lucie Rie
Large Bowl with pouring lip, circa 1954
Stoneware, white glaze with strong manganese flecks and manganese lip, the well with an unglazed circle.
Impressed LR seal
Width 26cm (10 1/4in.)
Dame Lucie Rie (British, Austrian Born, 1902-1995)
Lucie Rie was born in Vienna, Austria, the youngest child of a doctor who was a consultant to Sigmund Freud. She studied ceramics at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule (1922–7) under Michael Powolny. She was a gifted pupil, and her work during this period was influenced by an aesthetic of functional form generated by Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte. She made earthenware tea-sets in simple shapes with finely potted rims and plain, thick handles (e.g. of c. 1936; London, V&A) and began to experiment with stoneware glazes on red clay, producing the first of her ‘volcanic’ cylindrical jars in browns, ochres and greys with deeply fissured and pitted sides.
With Hoffmann’s help, her first exhibition was held in 1923 at the Palais Stoclet, Brussels, and she participated in the Exposition Universelle of 1925 in Paris. She set up her first studio in Vienna in 1925. She married Hans Rie in 1926 and continued to exhibit very successfully in international European shows, in 1937 she won a silver medal at the Paris International Exhibition (the same exhibition for which Pablo Picasso painted Guernica).
In 1938 she fled Nazi Austria for London where, despite her reputation on the Continent, she was little known. She set up a studio pottery in 1939 in Albion Mews, Bayswater, London, and in the same year met Bernard Leach who was initially a powerful influence on her work. The pottery’s activities were halted by World War II, but in 1945 Rie hired assistants and made quantities of hand-moulded, colourfully glazed ceramic buttons and jewellery (1945–6; London, V&A). Hans Coper joined the workshop in 1946 to train as an assistant, and together they made a range of tableware as well as individual one-off pieces.
Both Rie and Coper pursued individual work and a series of joint exhibitions at the Berkeley Galleries in Davies Street in the 1950s were an important showcase for their personal ceramics. Their work was also shown together at the 1951 Festival of Britain. Rie’s pots were toured to regional centres in Britain and major museums in the USA and on the Continent (Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus., 1953; Rotterdam, Boymans–van Beuningen, 1967). By the late 1960s, with Hans Coper now in his own studio, both potters were principally making one-off works which made reference to the ceramic vessel but which were more objects for display than for everyday use. In 1967 the Arts Council held a retrospective of Rie’s work in London. Although stylistically their pots were very different Rie and Coper remained close friends; they shared a number of exhibitions over the subsequent decades and continued to be united by their independence from collective movements and polemics in the crafts.
From 1960 to 1972 Rie taught part-time at the Camberwell School of Art, London, and continued to make pots into her eighties. Rie herself stopped making pottery in 1990, when she suffered the first of a series of strokes. In 1991, aged 89, she was appointed a DBE. She died at home on April 1, 1995, aged 93.
This post was written by joecollinson