Dorothy Miner Ceramics Collection and Library Sold Above Estimate at Cowans + Clark + DelVecchio Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Auction

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  • June 04, 2011

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Rick Dillingham titled Globe doubled its estimate, selling for $9,693
Cowan's Auctions

Sale featured Masterworks by Peter Voulkos, Lucie Rie, and Betty Woodman, while sales of works by lesser known ceramicists ushered in a new, secondary ceramics market.

Cincinnati – The second Cowan's + Clark + DelVecchio Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Auction was hailed a success as phone, online, and floor bidders battled for pieces by Peter Voulkos, Lucie Rie, Betty Woodman, and the astounding Dorothy Miner Ceramics Library.  Forty-five percent of the lots sold above estimate with the top selling lot going for $18,800 for a Lucie Rie Bowl with White Stripes.  The vast Miner Ceramics Library was sold in its entirety.  Sale totals came to just under $290,000 with a sell-through rate of eighty-four percent.  Bidders came from fifteen countries with fifty percent bidding online,  The auction was divided into three areas including Ceramic Masterworks, the Potter's Market, and the Dorothy Miner Library of Ceramic Art and History.

Lucie Rie Bowl with White Stripes sold for $18,800
Cowan's Auctions

"We decided to produce three curated auctions this time so that we could address different needs in the marketplace," explains Garth Clark.  "In keeping with the success of last November's auction in Chicago, Masterworks features the most exceptional pieces from well-known artists.  The Potter's Market should be considered a new venue for lesser-known artists; we hope it will be an approachable entry-point for new collectors.  Finally, Dorothy Miner's library is unparalleled in scope and deserved its own audience."


A Wood-Fired Plate by Peter Voulkos realized $8,518 in the Masterworks portion of the auction.  For this piece, Voulkos has torn off most of the collar on this plate leaving only four portions behind. The actual drawing on the plate is a cross between cave markings and an astrological map. This is an exceptional work. 

A work by Betty Woodman titled Three Princesses with Shadows sold for $17,625, on the higher end of its $15,000/20,000 estimate. Woodman is an internationally known artist with works in over 100 museums. This is one of the earlier expressions of her triple vases with shadows.

Betty Woodman's Three Princesses with Shadows sold for $17,625
Cowan's Auctions

A Bowl with White Stripes by Lucie Rie brought competitive bidding in the auction. The piece sold for $18,800, over its $12,000/18,000 estimate. The bowl is from the collection of Dorothy Miner. Dame Lucie Rie is the most celebrated and widely collected of all 20th century ceramists eclipsing the position once held by Hans Coper. Issey Miyaki curated an exhibition for her, Dan Flavin created light sculptures in her honor and she received both the OBE and CBE, birthday honors from the Queen. 

An Untitled Vessel by Robert Turner hammered down at $5,875. This is a rare and important prototype vase that would later morph into Turner's distinctive bowls with a square top.

Another piece by Lucie Rie titled Bottle Vase with Flaring Sgraffito Rim sold for $12,925. The silhouette of this piece produces an elegant upwardly thrusting line. 

A Pale Green Bottle by Lucie Rie realized $12,043.

An Untitled Vessel with Figures by Rudy Autio sold for $8,812. The drawing on this torso pot by Autio is exceptionally spirited and free and working in low fire-enabled him to produce a vibrant but delicate blue engobe and on the verso a delicate shade of lilac. The modest scale of this work is both rare and intimate.

A piece titled Fallen Bowl by Diego Romero brought $6,462, just above its estimate of $4,500/6,000. In this bowl Romero plays with stereotype and shows a fallen angel as an alcoholic Indian seated on the desert ground with extant pots buried in the soil below him. Hailed as "the Keith Haring of the southwest", Romero, mixed blood Cochiti and Anglo, brings extraordinary illustrative skill to the traditional pottery bowl. 

A piece by Rick Dillingham titled Globe doubled its estimate of $4,500/5,000 and sold for $9,693. Dillingham was known as much for his contemporary ceramics as for his scholarship of the pottery traditions of the North American Indian and published classic texts such as Acoma and Laguna Pottery and Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery. 

A Celadon Lidded Vessel with a Carved Base by Ralph Bacerra realized $4,200. When Bacerra died in 2007, American ceramics lost a dedicated educator and its most virtuosic ceramist who asserted against current fashions that his work was simply there to channel beauty.

Potter's Market

The Potter's Market caters to a wider market than Masterworks.  The top seller was Three Plates by John Maltby selling for $2,467, above the $400/600 estimate.  A Shoji Hamada Plate sold for $2,400 and Edward Eberle's Two Men - Two Dogs-Two Birds-Mouse Vase for $2,115, well above the estimated $300/500..

Dorothy Miner Library of Ceramic Art and History

The vast Miner Ceramics Library sold outright with the highest selling price coming in at $763 for a small collection of books on studio ceramics by Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, trouncing the estimate of $100.


Katie Monroe
Cowan's Auctions
513-871-1670 x30

Cowan's Auctions
6270 Este Ave
Cincinnati, Ohio
About Cowan's Auctions

As one of the nation’s leading auction houses with sales approaching $20 million, Cowan’s has been helping individuals and institutions build important collections for more than a decade. The company’s five divisions of American History, American Indian & Western Art, American and European Fine and Decorative Art, Historic Firearms & Early Militaria, and Modern & Contemporary Ceramics, hold semi-annual cataloged sales that routinely set records for rare offerings. Through its extensive mailing list of more than 40,000 collectors, dealers and institutional clients, each Cowan’s auction typically attracts more than 1,000 bidders from across the globe. To learn more about Cowan’s visit our website at

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