Hans Coper - Design London Wednesday, April 26, 2023 | Phillips

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  • The present pot photographed by Bill Ismay at Hans Coper’s first solo show, Primavera Gallery, Sloane Street, London, 1958.
    © The Estate of W.A. Ismay/York Museums Trust.
     Invitation to Hans Coper’s first solo show, Primavera Gallery, Sloane Street, London, 1958.
    • Provenance

      Primavera Gallery, Sloane Street, London, 1958
      Lucie Rie, London
      Jane Coper, Frome, 1995
      Private collection, London, 1996
      Private collection, United States

    • Exhibited

      'Stoneware Pots by Hans Coper', Primavera Gallery, Sloane Street, London, 6-19 May 1958
      ‘Hans Coper 1920-1981’, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, 20 September–11 December 1983, item 7; Hetjens Museum, Düsseldorf, January-March 1984; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, March-May 1984; Serpentine Gallery, London, 7 June-15 July 1984

    • Artist Biography

      Hans Coper

      German • 1920 - 1981

      Hans Coper learned his craft in the London studio of Lucie Rie, having emigrated from Germany as a young Jewish engineering student in 1939. He initially assisted Rie in the studio with the ceramic buttons she made for the fashion industry, as well as ceramic tableware, but soon Coper was producing his own work. By 1951 he had received considerable recognition exhibiting his pots in the "Festival of Britain." 


      Coper favored compound shapes that, while simple in appearance, were in fact complex in construction. Similar to the making of Joseon Dynasty Moon Jars (Rie in fact displayed a Moon Jar in the studio), he would build his vessels by bringing several thrown forms together, for example joining bowls rim to rim. Coper eschewed glazes and preferred the textured surfaces achieved through the application of white and black slips, evoking the abraded texture of excavated vessels. This interest in ancient objects was very much in step with other modernists of his time—Coper admired Constantin Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti and his textured markings have been compared to sculptors such as William Turnbull.


      In the last phase of his career, Coper reduced the scale of his work creating small "Cycladic" pots that stood on pedestals or drums, recalling the clay figures of Bronze Age Greece. 

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Important early pot

circa 1952
Stoneware, layered manganese glaze and white slip with a carved design, beneath a clear glaze.
26.5 cm (10 3/8 in.) high, 31.9 cm (12 1/2 in.) diameter
Underside impressed with artist's seal.

Full Cataloguing

£150,000 - 200,000 ‡♠

Sold for £184,150

Contact Specialist

Antonia King
Head of Sale, Design
+44 20 7901 7944


London Auction 26 April 2023