Lucie Rie was a British ceramicist and potter of Austrian origin. Born in Vienna in 1902, Rie began her artistic training at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule in 1922 where she first studied the art of pottery. The artist established her first studio in her native city in 1925. It was here that she began to experiment with the manipulation of pottery and development of textured glazes that became the hallmarks of her later style. Her work, most often produced to a domestic scale, was marked by a minimalist approach which was celebrated very early in her career. In 1938 Rie relocated to London, where she established a studio. In 1946 the artist hired Hans Coper, who would later become her most frequent collaborator, as a studio assistant. Hans Coper was a British ceramicist and potter of German origin. Born in Chemnitz in 1920, Coper fled to Britain in 1939 in response to changing political landscapes in his native country. Coper had aspirations to become a sculptor. With no prior experience of working with pottery, Coper was hired by Lucie Rie in 1946 as a studio assistant.
The two artists first exhibited together in 1948, marking the beginning of a long professional and personal relationship. During this time Rie continued to develop her distinctive earthenware pots whilst beginning to explore with Coper new methods and techniques surrounding stoneware and porcelain production. Though initially focused on small domestic items such as monochrome coffee pots and teacups, Rie and Coper’s work began to expand into more colourful and often metallic works such as elongated vases and bowls. Coper continued to work alongside Rie in her studio until 1958, when he established his own studio in Hertfordshire. In the years to follow, Coper became a highly successful ceramicist in his own right. Coper taught pottery at the Camberwell School of Art and later the Royal College of Art. Though their working relationship had ceased to continue in 1958, Rie and Coper remained close friends until Coper’s death in 1981. Rie was awarded CBE in 1981, before becoming Dame in 1991. Rie later died in 1995.