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Conical Bowl, 1971

Stoneware with shiny white pitted and speckled glaze.

Lucie Rie was one of the most important potters of the 20th century. Born Lucie Gomperz in Vienna, in 1938 she moved to Britain, where she spent the rest of her life. Though retaining conventional vase and bowl shapes, Rie created a highly expressive and original formal language, influenced by traditions ranging from prehistoric pots to Islamic fritware. Her technique was also innovative, notably for the combination of earthenware with thick stoneware glazes and the practice of decorating and glazing pots before once-firing them.

This one of four pieces by Rie at Kettle’s Yard, all produced between 1950 and 1974 and acquired by Jim Ede in the early 1970s. At Kettle’s Yard the bowl is known as ‘The Wave’ (possibly a title given by Jim Ede) which derives from the undulating shape of the rim, a feature that became one of Rie’s trademarks, which she achieved by squeezing the bowl into an oval while throwing. The white surface of the bowl is animated by dark flecks: though a master in the use of coloured glazes, Rie once confessed that she favoured her white pieces.

Conical Bowl is part of a group of objects carefully arranged by Ede with a subtle balance of light and dark. The display strongly resembles a still-life and has a distinct altar-like appearance. The objects on the slate table establish an arresting dialogue with the black and white collages by Italo Valenti – fittingly known as a ‘triptych’ – hanging behind them. The juxtaposition of the bowl with the Cypriot jug on the floor, dating from c.700 b.C., adds a fascinating interplay between ancient and modern to Ede’s composition.

Provenance: gift of Mrs Barbara Gomperts to H.S. Ede/Kettle’s Yard, 1971

Click here to learn more about this work through film, sound, images and 360-degree views via A Handful of Objects our online collection resource.

Ceramic [LR 4]


Stoneware bowl (glazed)

168 x 367 x 345 mm

About the artist

Rie was born in Vienna, Austria. After training at the Kunstgewerbe Schule, she moved to England in 1938. She worked with Hans Coper for many years, but it was only in the 1950s that the quality of her work was recognised. Although Rie was an admirer of Bernard Leach's work, her production was much more metropolitan in style, with no undertones of folk art. She taught at Camberwell College of Art and received an OBE in 1968.