Hans Coper vase

Hans Coper monumental bottle vase with disc top c.1959-62.

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It was commissioned in c.1959 as a Christmas gift for the artist and sculptor Moore by art dealer Harry Fischer (1903-77), who was co-founder of Marlborough Fine Art.

Moore displayed it in the sitting room of his Hertfordshire home, Hoglands.

The monumental bottle vase with disc top is one of the earliest examples of Coper’s series of monumental bottles, made in the 1960s and early ’70s.

The vase was sold at Phillips Design auction in London on April 26, 2023, for a premium-inclusive £584,200. An export licence was applied for and the government then placed a temporary export block on the vase in the hope a UK institution can raise the £584,200, plus VAT of £24,840 and Artist Resale Royalty of £7792.

Hans Coper mark

A detail of the mark on the Hans Coper vase.

Born in Germany, Coper (1920–81) came to England and joined the London studio of Austrian potter Lucie Rie. Examples of Coper’s and Rie’s work regularly sell at auction for hundreds of thousands of pounds (see ATG No 2563).

Exceptional significance

Arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “This fine piece is not only of exceptional significance to the study of the development of Hans Coper’s work, but also to the understanding of Henry Moore, given he displayed it in his living room at Hoglands – all the more reason to hope that a UK buyer will come forward so that it can stay here to be studied and enjoyed for generations to come.”

The minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

Committee member Stuart Lochhead said: “Hans Coper was commissioned to create this monumental bottle vase by Harry Fischer, the influential dealer, as a Christmas gift for Henry Moore, Britain’s greatest living sculptor at the time. It subsequently stands at an important intersection between the development of Coper’s career and the angst of the post-war artistic landscape to which both artists responded in their own way. The bottle was displayed in Moore’s sitting room at Hoglands for the rest of his life, where it was seen by a multitude of key figures in the international art world during this period.

“These links between the émigrés Fischer and Coper and the celebrated sculptor Moore cannot be underestimated and are a testament to the importance of this bottle vase, which also helps scholars to understand the development of Coper’s art at a crucial moment in his career. Of extraordinary grace and on a striking scale, the export of this work of art would be a misfortune for the nation.”

Waverley criteria

The RCEWA made its recommendation on the basis that the bottle met the first, second, and third Waverley criteria for its outstanding connection with our history and national life, its outstanding aesthetic importance, and its outstanding significance to the study of the work of Coper and the wider interdisciplinary modern British art movement, and the understanding of Moore, through his collecting and display of art and artefacts.

The decision on the export licence application will be deferred for a period ending on March 10, 2024, inclusive. At the end of this first deferral period the owner will have a consideration period of 15 business days to consider any offers.