Published 6th March 2018
It took nearly 25 minutes of cautious bidding to establish a new world record in Exeter for a work by the studio potter Hans Coper. The saleroom of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood reacted with an incredulous few seconds of silence before erupting into applause when the hammer finally dropped at £305,000.
Consigned during a routine valuation day in Devon, ceramics specialist Nic Saintey said he was astounded when it appeared from the bottom of a shoe box. The lady owner knew it was by Coper as she and her husband had been avid collectors in 1970's London. She had no idea how much it was worth and was shocked to hear it might make £10,000. Described by the auctioneers in Devon as a stoneware cycladic form, it surpasses the previous high for any piece of studio pottery.
Coper fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and at the end of the War, despite having no previous experience, he went to work for Lucie Rie, the renowned potter who herself had fled Austria a few years later.
Although he became a strong potter in his own right, he preferred to alter his pieces once they were removed from the wheel. In 1958, he left Lucie Rie to set up his own studio in Hammersmith and became strongly influenced by ancient Aegean artefacts that curiously gave his works a distinctly modern appeal. The previous record for any work by Hans Coper was set in 2011 when £181,000 was paid for a mural.