Lucie Rie Working

Lord Snowdon’s photograph of Lucie’s hands and Sam Haskin’s portrait of Lucie taken around 1990.

Lucie Rie and Hans Coper pottery upstairs at 18 Albion Mews in 1950. Then Lucie sunbathing in the 1960s. Photo by Stella Snead. Then her pink porcelain conical bowl, c. 1978.
Lucie, around 1935, in her Vienna studio. Then a shot of her London studio with her glazing materials.
Lucie in her London studio. Photo by Hansi Böhm. Then a page from her Vienna-days glazing notebook, 1920s.
A busy schedule filling orders in 1946 and Lucie getting it done in her London studio.
The group of vases were on display at London’s Berkeley Gallery, 1962. Photo by Jane Gate. Then Lucie potting in the 1980s.
Volcanic bowl with manganese border, c. 1986, then stoneware bowl with volcanic glaze, 1990 (from last firing), then yellow porcelain bowl, 1967, then turquoise bowl with bronze rim, 1983. These images from Galerie Besson.

Lucie Rie at her front door, photo by Jim Hair. Then  Lucie’s pots arranged on the Plischke shelves at Albion Mews, 1950.

Lucie Rie was born on March 6, 1902 to a prominent family in Vienna. In 1922 she entered the Kunstgewerbeschule, a school of arts and crafts associated with the Wiener Werkstätte, where she was, she said, instantly ‘”lost” to the potter’s wheel. She developed quickly, combining a taste for a clean, modernist aesthetic with daring technical skill.

In 1926, she married and commissioned an apartment from a young Viennese architect, Ernst Plischke, on Andreasgasse. Lucie had purchased a chair from Plischke and like it so much that she asked him to furnish her entire apartment. It was his first commission. Plischke designed every detail of the flat to suit the young potter, including studio space with a gas-fired kiln and, in the living room, walnut cupboards with versatile shelves that could be rearranged to display her work. When Lucie fled to London in 1938, she had the entire interior shipped over and re-erected in a mews house in Bayswater, where she lived and worked, to great renown, for the next 50 years. After she passed, the studio was moved and reconstructed again, this time in the Victoria and Albert Museum‘s ceramics gallery.

Lucie is often described as steely and too rigorous to be a good teacher, though she had a lasting mentorship turned creative partnership with Hans Coper and always made time to meet with anyone with a serious interest in pottery. Those who qualified for her time were invited over to her studio for tea, cake, and serious conversation, so long as it wasn’t technical talk about pottery.

Read more about this great dame on the VADS essay site set up for her in a nice timeline format and with lots more great images. The best spot to check out images of her work is through Galerie Besson, which represented her.

Pouring bowl, c.1952 and another portrait of Dame Lucie by Snowdon.

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