image008 (Left) Yellow Footed Bowl by Lucie Rie sold at Sotheby's, September 2017

2017 has seen works by ceramic artist Lucie Rie continue to smash (pun intended) previous auction records. Most recently and notably, a piece sold at Sotheby's just last month for £125 000, against an estimate of just £8 000-12 000.

Sotheby's Made in Britain sale, which took place in London on 13th September, starred a striking mustard Yellow Footed Bowl from the collection of the late Emmanuel Cooper. The piece sparked a three-way bidding battle before it sold for nearly thirteen times its pre-sale estimate at £125 000 (est. £8 000-12 000). Previous to this, the most expensive Rie work sold at auction was Tall composite vase, circa 1968, which sold at Phillips in 2013 for £57 900.

Cooper, himself a talented potter and the editor of Ceramic Review magazine, was Rie's biographer – pronouncing her work ''timeless and majestic.'' Testament to the enduring appeal and lasting legacy of one of Britain's most eminent potters, a further ten works by Rie – and two collaborations with her former studio assistant Hans Coper – brought in £295 375 (estimate: £69 600-105 400) at Sotheby's.

Austrian-born British studio potter Dame Lucie Rie set up her first studio in Vienna in 1925. In 1938, she settled in London after fleeing the Nazis. In London, she set up a studio near Hyde Park, which she worked in for 50 years.

During her lifetime, Rie was honoured with retrospectives of her work at the Arts Council (1967), a Damehood in 1991 and a show also featuring the works of Hans Coper at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1994-5.)

Hans Coper and Lucie Rie photographed togetherImage via kaolin.org Hans Coper and Lucie Rie photographed together
Image via kaolin.org

The ceramic market has been fuelled by the ever increasing demand for the work of Rie and Coper, two artists who developed a new sculptural form of ceramic art closer to European and Bauhaus traditions than the Leach and Cardew school centred on the Japanese aesthetic which had been predominant in the earlier half of the century.

Rie's work focuses on delicate and sparce aesthetic lines, textured surfaces, and interesting coloured glazes. They inspired generations of new ceramic artists laying the foundations of the modern movement that we see today. What is interesting to see is that the work of leading contemporary artists influenced and inspired by Coper and Rie have also started to gain traction in the art market in recent years. Notably works by Rupert Spira, Emmanuel Cooper, Jennifer Lee and Edmund de Waal, which all clearly show the influence of Rie, have seen spikes in there prices that shows no sign of abating.

Dame Lucie Rie DBE (1902-1995) a large flaring porcelain bowl, covered to the foot with a gloss white glaze, impressed marksEstimate: £4,000 - 6,000 Dame Lucie Rie DBE (1902-1995) a large flaring porcelain bowl, covered to the foot with a gloss white glaze, impressed marks
Estimate: £4 000 - 6 000

This work by Lucie Rie will be coming to auction on 17th October in Woolley & Wallis' Design sale. See more here.

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