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LIVE 24-SEVEN


A BUY E R’ S GUIDE DAME LUCIE RIE: POTTER (1902 TO 1995)


“To make pottery is an adventure to me; every new work is a new beginning.”


Dame Lucie Rie stands as one of Britain’s most influential and respected potters who, through her long career, enjoyed critical acclaim and great public honours, from a retrospective exhibition at the Arts Council in 1967 to the award of her Damehood in 1991.


Dame Lucie Rie stands as one of Britain’s most influential and respected potters who, through her long career, enjoyed critical acclaim and great public honours, from a retrospective exhibition at the Arts Council in 1967 to the award of her Damehood in 1991. Her work achieved international acknowledgement and admiration, culminating in an exhibition of her life’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1994.


Will Farmer is our antiques & collectors expert, he is well known for his resident work on the Antiques Roadshow, he has also written for the popular ‘Miller’s Antique Guide’. Those in the know will have also come across him at ‘Fieldings Auctioneers’. We are delighted that Will writes for Live 24-Seven, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise.


Born Lucie Gomperz in 1902 in Vienna, she was the third and youngest child of a prosperous doctor with progressive taste in art. Artistically inclined but unsure of her direction, she enrolled at the Vienna Kunstgewerberschule in 1922 where she learnt to throw, a technique which she would use throughout her life. Furthermore, she studied and learnt the complicated techniques and processes of glaze production, application and firing which enabled her to develop a range of volcanic and textured finishes which were to become major characteristics of her work. Her pots were elegant and minimal, concentrating on deceptively simple-looking tall cylinders and rounded bowls.


As the 1930s progressed the threat to the Jewish community in Vienna increased as anti-Semitism became more widespread. Following the union of Austria with Nazi Germany, it was clear that she and her husband, Hans Rie, whom she had married in 1926, had to leave and both arrived in London in 1938. A mews house was rented near Marble Arch, in central London and the old stables converted into a pottery studio.


Rie arrived with some earthenware pots decorated with her signature textured and mottled glazes. Despite their wide acclaim on the continent, her works were coolly received in London artistic circles. Nevertheless, leading potter Bernard Leach recognised her talent and invited her to join him at his new studio. Though it was clear they were working along different lines, they became lifelong friends and Rie always said that it was he who taught her how to make handles.


During the Second World War Rie found an outlet for her ceramic skill by designing and making a range of buttons and jewellery for Bimini. The process enabled her to use all her technical expertise producing her trademark brightly coloured and textured glazes. The arrival of Hans Coper, a young German refugee (and budding sculptor), as an assistant to help make the buttons, marked the start of a creative partnership in which Rie always claimed that it was she who was the student.


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