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Dame Lucie Rie, DBE (1902-1995) was an Austrian-born British studio potter.



Lucie (pronounced "Lutzie") Rie was born as Lucie Gomperz [1] in Vienna, Lower Austria, Austria-Hungary the youngest child of Benjamin Gomperz, a medical doctor who was a consultant to Sigmund Freud.

She had two brothers, Paul and Teddy. Paul was killed at the Italian front in 1917. She studied pottery under Michael Powolny at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule, a school of arts and crafts associated with the Wiener Werkstätte (the "Vienna Workshops). She set up her first studio in Vienna in 1925 and exhibited the same year at the Paris International Exhibition.

In 1937 she won a silver medal at the Paris International Exhibition (the exhibition for which Pablo Picasso painted Guernica).

In 1938 she fled Nazi Austria and emigrated to England, where she settled in London. Around this time she separated from Hans Rie, a businessman whom she had married in Vienna. For a time she provided accommodation to another Austrian émigré, the Austrian physicist, Erwin Schrödinger. During and after the war, to make ends meet, she made ceramic buttons and jewellery, some of which are displayed at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

In 1946 she hired Hans Coper,[2] a young man with no experience in ceramics, to help her fire the buttons. Although Coper was interested in learning sculpture, she sent him to a potter named Heber Matthews, who taught him how to make pots on the wheel. Rie and Coper exhibited together in 1948. Coper became a partner in Rie's studio, where he remained until 1958.[3] Their friendship lasted until Coper's death in 1981.

Career in London

Rie's small studio was at 18 Albion Mews, a narrow street of converted stables near Hyde Park. She invited many people to her studio and was renowned for giving her visitors tea and cake. The studio remained almost unchanged during the fifty years she occupied it. It is to be moved and reconstructed in the new ceramics gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum due to be opened in 2009.

Rie was a friend of Bernard Leach, one of the leading figures in British studio pottery in the mid-twentieth century, and she was impressed by his views, especially concerning the "completeness" of a pot. [4] But despite his transient influence, her brightly-coloured, delicate, modernist pottery stands apart from Leach's subdued, rustic, oriental work. She taught at Camberwell College of Arts from 1960 until 1972.


Blue plaque at her former home on Albion Mews 18 in London

She stopped making pottery in 1990, when she suffered the first of a series of strokes. She died at home on 1 April 1995, aged 93.


Rie's work has been described as cosmopolitan and architectural. She is best-remembered for her bowl and bottle forms. Her pottery is still displayed in collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Awards and honours

  • 1937 Silver medal at the Paris International Exhibition
  • 1969 Honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art [1]
  • 1981 CBE
  • 1991 DBE


  1. ^ a b the Visual Arts Data Service, Lucie Rie archive
  2. ^ Ceramics Today-Hans Coper
  3. ^ 24 Hour Museum November 2, 2005
  4. ^ Gowing, Christopher, and Rice, Paul, British Studio Ceramics in the 20th Century, Barrie and Jenkins, 1989, p. 113; ISBN 0-7126-2042-7


  • Birks, Tony. Lucie Rie, Stenlake Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9781840334487.
  • Coatts, Margot (ed.). Lucie Rie and Hans Coper: Potters in Parallel, Herbert Press, 1997. ISBN 0-7136-4697-7.
  • Cooper, Emmanuel (ed.). Lucie Rie: The Life and Work of Lucie Rie, 1902-1995, Ceramic Review Publishing Ltd., 2002. ISBN 4-86020-122-1.
  • Frankel, Cyril. Modern Pots: Hans Coper, Lucie Rie & their Contemporaries, University of East Anglia Press, 2002. ISBN 0-946009-36-8.
  • "Dame Lucie Rie, 93, Noted Ceramicist", New York Times, April 3, 1995, B10.

External links



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