Dame Lucie Rie, DBE (16 March 1902 – 1 April 1995) (German pronunciation: [lʊtsiː ʀiː])[1] was an Austrian-born British studio potter.

Lucie Rie

Lucie Rie Photograph.jpg
Lucie Rie 1990
Lucie Gomperz

(1902-03-16)16 March 1902
Died1 April 1995(1995-04-01) (aged 93)
Known forStudio pottery
Thrown vase by Lucie Rie


Early years and educationEdit

Lucie Gomperz[2] was born in Vienna, Lower Austria, Austria-Hungary, the youngest child of Benjamin Gomperz, a Jewish medical doctor who was a consultant to Sigmund Freud.[3] She had two brothers, Paul Gomperz and Teddy Gomperz. Paul Gomperz was killed at the Italian front in 1917. She had a liberal upbringing.[4]

She studied pottery under Michael Powolny at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule, a school of arts and crafts associated with the Wiener Werkstätte, in which she enrolled in 1922.[3]



Lucie Rie's workshop, as exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

While in Vienna, Lucie's uncle from her mother's side had a collection of art that inspired her interest in archeology and architecture. She was first inspired by her uncle's Roman pottery collection which had been excavated from the suburbs of Vienna. She set up her first studio in Vienna in 1925 and exhibited the same year at the Paris International Exhibition. She was influenced by Neoclassicism, Jugendstil, modernism, and Japonism.[5]

In 1937, Rie won a silver medal at the Paris International Exhibition (the exhibition for which Pablo Picasso painted Guernica). Rie had her first solo show as a potter in 1949.[6]


In 1938, Rie fled Nazi Austria and emigrated to England, where she settled in London.[7] Around this time she separated from Hans Rie, a businessman whom she had married in Vienna in 1926, and their marriage was dissolved in 1940.[3] For a time she provided accommodation to another Austrian émigré, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger. During and after the war, to make ends meet, she made ceramic buttons and jewellery for couture fashion outlets.[7] Some of these are now displayed at London's Victoria and Albert Museum and as part of the Lisa Sainsbury Collection at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

In 1946, Rie hired Hans Coper,[8] 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 Mathews, 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.[9] Their friendship lasted until Coper's death in 1981.

Rie's small studio was at 18 Albion Mews, a narrow street of converted stables near Hyde Park in London. She invited many people to her studio and was renowned for giving her visitors tea and cake. The studio remained almost unchanged during the 50 years she occupied it and has been reconstructed in the Victoria and Albert Museum's ceramics gallery.

Rie was a friend of Bernard Leach, one of the leading figures in British studio pottery in the mid-20th century, and she was impressed by his views, especially concerning the "completeness" of a pot.[10] 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.

She received several awards for her work and exhibited with great success. Her most famous creations are vases, bottles and bowls, which drew some inspiration from Japan as well as many other places. There are other works such as buttons, which she bequeathed to her close friend the Japanese designer Issey Miyake[11][12] and bowls including her own egg cup which she gave to the publisher Susan Shaw.[13]


Blue plaque at her former home on 18 Albion Mews, Paddington, London

She stopped making pottery in 1990, when she suffered the first of a series of strokes. She died at home in London on 1 April 1995, aged 93.[14]


Rie's work has been described as cosmopolitan.[15] She is best remembered for her bowl and bottle forms. Her pottery is displayed in collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the York Art Gallery in the UK, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and Paisley Museum in Scotland.[16][17] She influenced many during her 60 year career and developed very inventive kiln processing.[18] Her studio was moved and reconstructed in the new ceramics gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum opened in 2009. She was awarded the title of Dame Commander (DCE) after teaching at the Camberwell School of Art from 1960 until 1971.[19]

Awards and honoursEdit


  1. ^ "Rie, Dame Lucie". Academic.ru. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b Heath, Sophie (28 September 2006). "The Lucie Rie Archive at the Crafts Study Centre". AHDS Visual Arts database. University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury. Archived from the original on 28 September 2006.
  3. ^ a b c Cooper, Emmanuel (2 April 1995). "Obituaries: Dame Lucie Rie". The Independent. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Rie's Upbringing". 28 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica Entry".
  6. ^ "Rie's First Show".
  7. ^ a b c Lydia Figes (22 September 2020). "Ten women artists of Jewish heritage represented in UK collections". Art UK. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Hans Coper: A Modernist Potter (1920-1981)". Ceramics Today. Archived from the original on 12 November 2007.
  9. ^ "Classic Ceramics - Top Pots At The Shipley Art Gallery". Culture24. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  10. ^ Gowing, Christopher; Rice, Paul (1989). British Studio Ceramics in the 20th Century. Barrie and Jenkins. p. 113. ISBN 0-7126-2042-7.
  11. ^ Rosen, D.H. (8 May 2009). "Issey Miyake's "U-Tsu-Wa" filled with character and inspiration". The Japan Times. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  12. ^ Stewart, Robin (3 March 2016). "Prêt-à-Potter: Lucie Rie's Ceramics". Sothebys. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  13. ^ Cooper, Emmanuel. "Her work, timeless and majestic, remains a lasting and enduring testament to the art of the potter". Sotherbys. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Lucie Rie". Galerie Besson. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Museum's ceramic collection boosted by £20,000 Art Fund bequest". The Art Fund. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Bowl, Lucie Rie (English, 1902–1995) c. 1980". Carnegie Museum of Art. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Earthenware shallow bowl by Lucie Rie". The Art Fund. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Kiln Technique".
  19. ^ "Awards".
  20. ^ "Honorary Graduates". Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh. Retrieved 5 April 2016.


  • Birks, Tony. Lucie Rie, Stenlake Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84033-448-7.
  • 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 linksEdit