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Lucie Rie (1902-1995) was undoubtedly one of the leading ceramists of the 20th Century. She studied under Michael Powolny at the School of Applied Art, in Vienna, and knew Josef Hoffmann (see lot 27), who also taught at the School. Having moved to England in 1938, she spent four days learning from the potter Bernard Leach. Work was interrupted by the Second World War and this collection (lots 1-22) provides an overview of her work from the 1950s to the 1980s. It demonstrates her distinctive style, which was born from an exploration of the relationship between the body of the piece, its texture and the glaze applied. She was not interested in mere ornamentation, but rather the synthesis of the whole.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE POTTER by Dr Wolfgang Fischer
In the mid-sixties on my way back to the Gallery, strolling up Hay Hill, I discovered in a shop window a tea set, which fascinated me. The slender, elongated forms in dark grey were ornamented with very light thin stripes at the edges. Without hesitation I bought the set. Asking for the name of the potter, I heard the name Lucie Rie for the first time.
I showed my new acquisition to my father, one Sunday afternoon, when he came to tea. He heard me mention the potter's name and said, "Lucie Rie! Of course I know her. Let me call her and arrange a visit for you".
Soon after, my wife and I stood in front of this fragile, doll-like artist, who invited us to come upstairs to have tea. She served tea in the same cups we now used at home. She offered us pieces of cake, which she had made herself - a ritual, which we had the privilege to enjoy for many more times to come. Afterwards, we went downstairs again and her small mews house became the scene of a potter's paradise. Jugs, vases, bowls, cups and plates in all sizes, shapes and colours were displayed on the shelves. A door to the room with the kiln stood ajar.
The almost austere modernist furniture had been designed for her by a friend, the architect, Hans Plieschke, back in Vienna, and created the impression of a monastic cell. Fortunately, she was able to move the dark brown pieces and wall unit to London when she emigrated in 1938. In her will she bequeathed the whole interior to a museum in Vienna, so returning it to its place of origin.
At the end of our first visit we had chosen two vases. When we asked for the price, we had to be insistent, as she seemed to feel uncomfortable naming a price and almost refused to accept a cheque.
This first encounter was the beginning of a long relationship between our family and Lucie Rie. Over time we built up our collection, with the assistance of one of our directors, Anita Besson. I finally persuaded Lucie Rie to allow us to show her pots in our Gallery, Fischer Fine Art, in 1984. Anita Besson became so passionate about ceramics that she opened Galerie Besson in 1988 and has specialised in shows of leading international potters.
PROPERTY FROM THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF DR WOLFGANG AND MRS JUTTA FISCHER