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  • Provenance

    Christies, South Kensington, 'British Decorative Arts from 1880 to the Present Day', 15 February 1989, lot 303
    Galerie Besson, London

  • Exhibited

    'Lucie Rie & Hans Coper-Potters in Parallel', Barbican Art Gallery, London, 20 February-26 May 1997

  • Literature

    Margot Coatts, ed., Lucie Rie & Hans Coper-Potters in Parallel, exh. cat., Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1997, illustrated front cover, p. 62
    Tony Birks, Hans Coper, Catrine, 2013, illustrated p. 79

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present dish was purchased from a car boot sale in Farnham in 1988 for £1.50 and was then sold at Christies, London in February 1989 for £20,900. A comparable dish was exhibited at the British stand at the IX Milan Triennale in 1951.

    'Coper's work expresses a highly inventive and disciplined exploration of form, line, proportion and design. Most of all his work articulates the way light caresses form and feels its delicate, probing path across a surface. In doing so Hans Coper created his own singular métier which is at once tangible and elusive, yet always endowed with the mysterious magic of artistry occurring solely in the rarefied realm of a great master.' -J.D.

  • 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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Large dish

circa 1950
Stoneware, layered white porcelain slips and manganese with the design cut through.
36.9 cm (14 1/2 in.) diameter
Impressed with artist's seal.

£20,000 - 30,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £30,240

Contact Specialist

Antonia King
Head of Sale, Design
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Ben Williams
Ceramics Consultant
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Marijke Varrall-Jones
Director, Maak
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The Art of Fire: Selections from the Dr John P. Driscoll Collection

London Auction in association with Maak