Lucie Rie archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of

  • Personal documents including diaries 1971, 1979-1989, 1991
  • Personal correspondence
  • Professional correspondence
  • Notebooks and sketch books
  • Technical material including glaze recipes
  • Material relating to exhibitions of Lucie Rie's work
  • Exhibition material, catalogues&advertising
  • Accounts, invoices and order books
  • Personal and family photographs
  • Photographs of the work of Lucie Rie
  • Micellaneous photographs
  • Newspapers and magazines, cuttings and articles
  • Miscellaneous papers and documents

Administrative / Biographical History

Lucie Rie was born Lucie Gomperz in 1902  in Vienna. She toured Europe with her antiquarian uncle before going on to study ceramics at the Kunstgewerbeschule under Michael Powolny from 1922  to 1926 .

During her time there she conducted exhaustive glaze trials which provided the foundation for the stunning range of coloured glazes which characterised her later work. She threw pots at her and her husband Hans's architect-designed flat (to be recreated with the original furniture and fittings in Albion Mews, London) and exhibited in Italy, Paris and Brussels before coming as a refugee with Hans to London in 1938 . They lived in Hampstead initially until Lucie moved her home and workshop to Albion Mews, Bayswater where she lived, after they divorced and Hans moved to America in 1940 , until her death in 1995 . Early on she visited Bernard Leach in Shinners Bridge for four days 'tuition' and although their aesthetic diverged widely they remained friends. From 1940-43 , forced to temporarily abandon pottery, she worked for Fritz Lampl's Bimini glass, jewellery and button workshop and in 1945  opened a clay button-making business with assistants in Albion Mews in 1945 . Hans Coper, a young German refugee, joined the workshop in 1946  and so begun a life long friendship between the two pre-eminent modernist potters of the twentieth-century. Together they were responsible for producing a range of tableware that embodied the simple bold shapes of the 1950's , working together from 1949 . Although they produced no joint pieces after 1958  they continued to share a creative dialogue for the rest of their lives. In the mid to late 1940's  she began to produce one-off thrown stoneware and porcelain. Rie exhibited widely throughout her long career, in commercial galleries such as Primavera in Sloane Street (and later Cambridge), Peter Dingley Gallery, Berkeley Galleries, Davies Street, Fischer Fine Art and Anita Besson; with retrospective exhibitions in London in 1967  organised by the Arts Council, at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 1981  and at the V & A Museum, and at the Crafts Council in 1992  and following her death at the Barbican Art Gallery in 1997 . She also exhibited in Japan and the USA. Rie's later work was characterised by delicate porcelain and stoneware bowls and tall narrow necked bottles with brilliantly coloured glazes using pigments or slips eg yellow, bronze and manganese. Sgraffito was often used as well as heavily pitted textured stoneware glazes. She was awarded an honorary degree from the Royal College of Art, where she taught part-time from 1960-1971 , and the DBE in 1991 .


None expected

Conditions Governing Access

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Becky Lyle, Submissions Officer for the project and by Jean Vacher, Collections Manager at the Crafts Study Centre. The biography was written by Frances Lord.

Other Finding Aids

An inventory is available onsite

Conditions Governing Use

The photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre holds other material relating to the Lucie Rie archive in the

  • Bernard Leach archive
  • Robin and Heather Tanner archive

Also see access points


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