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The Studio Pottery Collection of Professor Luke Herrmann News Image

The Studio Pottery Collection of Professor Luke Herrmann

13 Dec, 2017

On 13th December Woolley & Wallis will present the Studio Pottery Collection of Professor Luke Herrmann, showcasing one of the finest private collections of British studio pottery to come to auction. The sale includes all the major British potters from both the Leach tradition and the modern movement of Dame Lucie Rie, Hans Coper and their followers John Ward, John Maltby, Jennifer Lee and Edmund De Waal.

Born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1932, Professor Herrmann was, in his own words, a collector born into a family of collectors. His early appreciation for the visual form was evident during his time editing the film page for Illustrated London News between 1956 and 1967. It was here that he claimed to have devised the term “sex kitten” to describe Brigitte Bardot, “with whose image I was madly in love”. His role at the paper also had another significant impact on Herrmann, as it was here that he worked with editor Bruce Ingram, a prominent art collector under whose guidance he began to collect English watercolour paintings in the 1950s.

His interest in pottery began in the 1960s whilst working at the Ashmolean Museum, where he was responsible for the collections of European ceramics. His private collection would later be displayed at the museum in 1994, as an exhibition entitled British Studio Pottery, The Collection of an Oxford Graduate.

The sale has a fine selection of work by Dame Lucie Rie, put together with an academic eye, including early work produced in Vienna in the 1930s (lot 77-79) to the celebrated bottle vases produced in the 1970s and 1980s (lots 89-90) and three stunning bowls decorated with simple sgraffito (lot 92), vivid blue and green glazes (lots 94 and 93 respectively). These simple and modern forms have been curated to stand next to the sculptural vessels of her friend and protegee Hans Coper (lots 95-96) and her pupils including Jennifer Lee (lots 126-129) in the fully illustrated catalogue and in the saleroom.

Two potters who rarely come to auction are also included in the collection - William Staite Murray (lots 9-19) and James Tower (lot 99-100). Tower provides one of the most striking images in the collection – his vase entitled Winter Grasses – Opus 202 made in 1986 is a large flat disc form, decorated with grass motif in wax relief – estimate £10,000-15,000.

The sale will be followed on the 14th December by a British Art Pottery auction, with works from all the major British factories of the 20th Century - Doulton, Mintons, Wedgwood, Pilkington's Lancastrian and individual studio potters including the Martin Brothers and William De Morgan. The sale starts with forty lots of 19th and 20th Century tiles from the tile collection of Carolyn Wraight (prominent member and trustee of the Tile Society). 

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