Lucie Rie 1902 - 1995


Private Collection, USA


Tony Birks, Lucie Rie, Yeovil, 1994, p51, a similar example


The simple elegance of this form foregrounds the colour Lucie Rie has applied so skilfully to the surface – a gorgeous palette of naturally occurring hues, mattified candy pink, magenta, grey-brown and duck-egg blue. The pleasing bleeding of the blue into the dun brown, is contrasted with a much crisper band of white around the foot. The fine dark pink lines around the rim are produced using the sgraffito technique, in which fine lines are scratched into the first layer of glaze with a needle and then carefully filled in with a contrasting tone. As is often the case in Rie’s work, these exquisitely delicate modulations of colour even extend to the underside of the bowl, where her initials are embossed into a base of mottled sky blue.

Angus Stewart picks up on Rie’s distinctive palette when describing a visit to her Albion Mews studio in the early 1980s;

'Rie’s workshop was divided into two sections. The entrance lobby, with a table and floor-to-ceiling deep shelves, was for display, the rear was for potting. The opening display was of a hundred or more pots; some precisely positioned; others in serried ranks or piled on top of one another. In the adjoining workshop pots were marooned on every available surface.

Being among the display with Rie herself, white haired and in her invariable white garb, was rather like being on a beach. There was silence, space and the sense of being in a refuge. Each pot was a variation on white-grey or the palest of blue. In places there was a flicker of diluted yellow, or a soft creamy pink. These subtle shades were quiet and reticent. Added sparkle came from the occasional sight of iridescent turquoise, rich gold, brilliant emerald and sizzling mustard.’ 1

Rie received international recognition within her lifetime exhibiting both in London and across Europe, in shows arranged by Henry Rothschild’s Primavera. Lucie Rie and Hans Coper were particularly influential to the field of Dutch ceramics and the Boymans van-Beuningen Museum holds a significant collection of their work. Rie was the subject of major museum retrospectives at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich and Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 1981-2 and the fashion designer curated ‘Issey Miyake meets Lucie Rie’ in Tokyo, Japan in 1989. She had two major joint retrospectives with Coper at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1994-95, and at the Barbican Art Gallery, London in 1997; and later a further solo retrospective at the MAK (Museum of Decorative Arts), Vienna in 1999.

1. Galerie Besson, London, Lucie Rie, exhibition catalogue, 2006, unpaginated