Paul Rice: 'Collecting studio ceramics has been one of the joys of my life'23 July 2021 Cheshire saleroom Adam Partridge is conducting an auction titled Studio Ceramics from the Paul Rice Collection on July 30. Rice is an influential name in this burgeoning collecting field as both a London gallery owner and co-author with Christopher Gowing of the seminal book 'British Studio Ceramics in the 20th Century' (1989).
Beginning his art dealing career as a specialist in European post-war abstract art, Rice had been introduced to studio ceramics by the St Ives painter Patrick Heron, who had helped run the Leach Pottery during the war.
Struck at once by how little was known about British studio ceramics, he began exhibiting them from 1979. At the time great items were available on both the primary and secondary markets, museums were conscious of the need to begin collecting and some of the most influential figures in the movement were still potting.
“This was a happy decision for me", he writes. “[In this field] I was able to organise meaningful exhibitions as well as do useful research, write and help museums with purchases, exhibitions and bringing out their, often, hidden treasures – all of which, would have been near impossible for me in the ‘fine art’ world.
“As a collector, it gave me access to pots from artists' own collections that might otherwise not come to market and, often, first choice when buying from working potters. Collecting studio ceramics has been one of the joys of my life.’
The sale comprises 424 lots, that provide a virtual A-Z of studio ceramics from pieces by early ‘influencers’ such as the art potters Charles Wyse, Bernard Moore and George Ohr of Biloxi, Mississippi alongside those by many of the keystone names of the post-war era.
As a bonus, some of the pieces are those that are illustrated in British Studio Ceramics in the 20th Century. Pictured below is a small selection of items at the auction.
Charles Wyse, a stoneware footed dish with floral decoration, incised signature and dated 1938, diameter 19cm, estimate £250-300.
William Staite Murray, a tall stoneware bottle with fluted body and iron decoration to shoulder, height 39cm, early 1930s, estimate £2500-3500.
James Tower, a tin glazed earthenware footed bowl with black and white decoration, incised signature c.1955, diameter 27cm, estimate £3500-500.
Waistel Cooper, an early stoneware footed bowl covered in mottled iron glaze, incised signature, made 1950s, diameter 14cm, estimate £400-600.
George Ohr, a small earthenware pot or ‘mud baby’ covered in mottled dark green glaze, incised Biloxi mark, height 6.5cm, estimate £1500-2000.
Robin Welch, a stoneware bowl partially covered in mottled sea green glaze, impressed mark, 1970s, diameter 24cm, estimate £120-180.
Walter Keeler, a large saltglazed jug with beak spout, impressed mark, height 19cm, estimate £400-500.
Joanna Constantinidis, a stoneware body pot with lustred surface, impressed C mark, height 42cm, estimate 3000-5000.
Bernard Leach for Leach Pottery; a stoneware tile depicting ducks and reeds in original wooden frame, painted BL and pottery marks, made c.1930, 10 x 10cm, estimate £1200-1800.