High-End Ceramics: Timeless Masterpieces by Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, and Jennifer Lee from an Exquisite Private French Collection at Bonhams

Selection of ceramics masterpieces by Hans Coper, Lucie Rie and Jennifer Lee

A selection of 15 exceptional ceramics by Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Jennifer Lee, Ewen Henderson, Colin Pearson, Duncan Ross and Walter Keeler from a private French collection will be offered at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr in Paris on Wednesday 6 December 2023.


Hans Coper (1920-1981) was a leading figure in the field of studio pottery — the production of unique ceramic wares made by individual artist-potters in small batches. Together with Lucie Rie (1902-1995), he was instrumental in revolutionising British ceramics, adopting a style which was increasingly sculptural.

Hans Coper “Spade” form, circa 1972 (estimate: €60,000 – 80,000)

Claire Gallois, Bonhams’ Director of 20th Century Design in Paris said: “Coper and Rie are ones of the greatest names of 20th century British ceramics. This collection reveals true masterpieces which should appeal to international collectors.” 


With their scoured surfaces and neutral tones, Coper’s work is reminiscent of ancient vessels, and especially ancient Cycladic art (about 3500-1050 BC). The artist likes to translate ancient forms into abstract sculpture as in this Spade form, made circa 1972 of stoneware, layered porcelain slips and engobes over a textured and incised body (estimate: €60,000 – 80,000) or in a Cycladic form circa 1967 measuring 25 cm high (estimate: €60,000 – 80,000).

“Cycladic” form, circa 1967 (estimate: €60,000 – 80,000)

Some are formed of a single shape, while others are assembled from multiple elements. Discs feature in several of his designs, including Thistle form, 1965 in which footed cups are balanced by a central disc between the body and the base estimated at € 30,000-50,000.


Lucie Rie (1902-1995) was a ceramist with immense technical knowledge and an inventive, experimental approach. She established herself in Britain in 1938, becoming renowned for her distinctive tableware and one-off pieces. She developed a range of innovative glazes, showcased in works such as a porcelain Footed bowl executed circa 1980 which features inlaid pink radiating lines, turquoise and manganese bands and carries an estimate of € 40,000-60,000. Another highlight is her cylindrical vase with flaring lip, circa 1978, made of porcelain, manganese and dry terracotta glazes which has an estimate of €20,000 to 30,000.

Lucie Rie, Footed bowl, circa 1980 (Estimate: € 40,000-60,000)

Jennifer Lee (born 1956) is known for her innovative style, mixing metallic oxides into the clay before firing to colour them. Celebrated for her hand-built pottery, herwork is represented in major public collections worldwide, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A 2006 pale and speckled rim vessel made of stoneware and oxides is estimated at €10,000-15,000.

Jennifer Lee, Pale and speckled rim vessel, 2006 (estimate: €10,000-15,000)

Other highlights of the 15-lot collection include:

  • Vessel with twisted handles, 2001 by Colin Pearson. Estimate: € 2,000-3,000.
  • Two 1980 pieces by Ewen Henderson: Vessel forms, one with an estimate of € 2,000-3,000 and the other with an estimate of € 3,000-5,000.
  • Bowl by Duncan Ross, 2002. Estimate: € 1,000-1,500.

Bonhams currently holds the world auction record for a work by Hans Coper, with a tall bottle vase with disc sold in London on 4 October 2022 for £655,500.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world’s largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and collectables, collectors’ cars and a luxury division, which includes jewellery, designer fashion, watches, wine, and whisky. In 2021 and 2022, Bonhams made a number of important acquisitions which form the wider Bonhams network. These include: Bukowskis, Bruun Rasmussen, Bonhams Skinner and Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr.


Top lots for 2022 included a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (Sold for US$4,185,000), a pair of blue and white octagonal candlesticks (Sold for HK$30,453,00/ US$3,911,913), La femme en rouge au fond bleu by Chaïm Soutine (Sold for £1,842,300/ US$2,236,940), and a rare emerald and diamond Cartier bracelet (Sold for US$3,240,375).

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1 reply »

  1. Nice bowl By Lucie! The rest of these paltry “contemporary masterpieces” pale by simple comparison to the work of David Morris . A folk potter out of Washington D.C., he taught himself ceramics by visiting museums , and experimenting from 1951 until his death in 1999 . if you ever get that lucky ,you may eventually get to see or even own his magnificent work.

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