Rie and Coper collection

Scope and Content

The Crafts Study Centre has listed together in this collection small offerings of letters, photographs and publications relating to Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, collected together by various admirers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lucie Rie was born in Vienna on 16 March 1902, daughter of Professor Benjamin Gomperz and his wife Gisela (nee Wolf). Her parents were both from wealthy families, and her maternal uncle was Alexander (Sandor) Wolf, antiquarian and historian. She studied ceramics 1922-1926 at the Vienna Kunstgewerbeschule under Michael Powolny, and her work came to the attention of the Principal, Josef Hoffman, who sent her pots to the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Modernes in Paris in 1925.

She married Hans Rie (b.1901) in 1926, and made pots in their apartment. They joined the Jewish diaspora from central Europe in 1938, when they moved to England with the intention of settling in the USA. LR stayed in London, however, and the couple divorced.

During the Second World War LR ran a ceramic button-making business employing fellow-refugees. She also produced jewellery and buckles, but always intended to return to making pots and after 1945 began to make domestic wares. In 1946 Hans Coper (1920–1981), also a refugee from the Nazi state, came to LR's studio looking for work. She taught him to make pottery and they shared a workshop until 1958. Although their styles remained distinct, each had a crucial effect on the development of the other's work.

In 1948 LR acquired an electric kiln and began to make stoneware and porcelain in which a greater range of glaze effects was possible. She showed pots at the Festival of Britain in 1951, and in 1967 an Arts Council exhibition of her work established her importance in a broader context. The following year she was made OBE, and in 1969 she received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art. She was promoted CBE in 1981 and DBE in 1990. She was one of four British potters whose work was illustrated on an issue of stamps from the Royal Mail in 1987.

Lucie Rie continued to exhibit and to work into her late eighties, but after a series of strokes she was finally forced to stop working in the early 1990s. She died at her home, 18 Albion Mews, on 1 April 1995.

Hans Coper was born in Chemnitz, Germany, on 8 April 1920. He joined the Jewish diaspora from central Europe in 1939. He was interned as an enemy alien in Canada for two years before returning to Britain in 1942 and serving as a conscientious objector.

In 1946, with no previous experience of ceramics, he began working as an assistant to Lucie Rie. He left in 1958 to establish his own studio at Digswell House in Hertfordshire. He taught pottery at the Camberwell School of Art and the Royal College of Art during the 1960s. Coper died in 1981.


  • RCC/1 Postcards from Rie-Coper exhibition at Fischer Fine Art, [1984]
  • RCC/2 Notes and photographs about Hans Coper's architectural work, 1962, 1965, 1983
  • RCC/3 Photographs of Rie and Coper given by Jane Coper, [1930s] - [1990s?]

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Greta Bertram, Crafts Study Centre Curator, June 2020.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre also holds:


Selected Bibliography

Birks, Tony, Lucie Rie , Alphabooks Ltd, A&C Black, London, 1987

Coatts, Margot (ed), Lucie Rie & Hans Coper: potters in parallel , Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1997

Cooper, Emmanuel (ed), 'The Life and Work of Lucie Rie 1902-1995', Ceramic Review , 2002