Spade form

Hans Coper large Spade form and smaller Spade form, both c.1965, estimated respectively £60,000-80,000 and £30,000-50,000 at Phillips.

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The selection of 106 lots comes from two sources: the Estate of Jane Coper (Hans’ wife) and the former Collection of Cyril Frankel.

Jane Coper (1932-2022) was also an artist and her photographs of Hans’ creative process offer a rare window into the life and art of the master potter.

Among the pieces from collection on offer, says Phillips, are those “intimately intertwined with her and Hans’ daily life, including cherished favourites and perhaps prototypes or one-off creations.

Lucie Rie bowl

This small bowl by Lucie Rie guided at £30,000- 40,000 by Phillips bears the sgraffito inscription FOR HANS COPER CHRISTMAS 1949. FROM HIS BOSS LUCIE RIE. ALL DEBTS CANCELLED. Featuring Rie’s characteristically dry wit, the dedication attests to the closeness of their friendship.

“Additionally, the assortment includes numerous cherished gifts from Rie over the years. Notably, certain works from the Estate of Jane Coper were inherited via the Lucie Rie Trust.”

Cyril Frankel (1921-2017), celebrated director and filmmaker, became captivated by British studio ceramics after acquiring a piece by Rie in 1953.

This marked the beginning of his influential role in elevating the recognition of modern potters, partly through his arts coverage, including pioneering work on the BBC’s Monitor series.

Frankel directly acquired Footed bowl (estimate £50,000- 70,000 in this auction) from Rie in 1981.

It featured in the 1982 BBC Omnibus documentary on Rie, directed by Frankel and narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Attenborough ‘stunner’

After working with Christie’s, Frankel was also the studio ceramics expert for Bonhams for many years, setting up its first ceramics department.

He co-authored the book Modern Pots: Hans Coper, Lucie Rie and their Contemporaries – The Lisa Sainsbury Collection published in 2000.

Coffee table

Lucie Rie and Vilmo Gilbello coffee table, 1961. Estimated £20,000-30,000 at Phillips, this is believed to be the only piece of furniture made by Rie. It was specially commissioned by Cyril Frankel and Rie utilised bricks from her kiln in the creation of this unique piece.

The programme coincided with a major retrospective exhibition of her work at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which also marked her 80th birthday, featuring Rie in her studio, engaging in her craft and discussing her artistic endeavours. A notable moment occurs when Rie retrieves this very bowl from the kiln, presenting it to Attenborough, who says: “That’s a stunner.”

A preview of highlights will be open to the public at Phillips’ Berkeley Square premises from October 4-13 to coincide with Frieze Week and PAD London, followed by a full auction preview from October 25 to November 1.

Ben Williams, Phillips international ceramics consultant, said: “The sheer magnitude of these two collections, entwined with the central figures in the lives of these two potters, is extraordinary.”