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Born in Germany Ruth Windmüller (later Duckworth) moved to Britain to study art in Liverpool in 1936, as the Nazi regime banned her from studying art in her home country. With ambitions to hone her drawing, painting and sculpting skills, her work knew now bounds.

lat-me-ruth-duck_ks3eenc20091025160506 Ruth Duckworth

Later, on the advice of a fellow refugee Lucie Rie, she studied ceramic art. Finding her passion in ceramics, Duckworth's early works were in the traditional form, later moving to a more abstract style.

A sculptural form with green and black glaze by Ruth Duckworth A sculptural form with green and black glaze by Ruth Duckworth

Joan Henly first met Duckworth at her studio in Kew while building a modernist house nearby. She recalls: ''I was then the site manager of a self-build home designed by my architect husband. We became friends and admirers of her work. It was the early Sixties and Ruth was eagerly exploring new ideas and experimenting with varied techniques and materials.''

In 1964, Duckworth uprooted her life again, this time to Chicago, where she had accepted a teaching post at the University of Chicago's Midway Studios. Here she stayed until the mid-1970's, eventually adopting America as her homeland and settling permanently.

January Sunflower, a wall plaque from 1962 by Ruth Duckworth January Sunflower, a wall plaque from 1962 by Ruth Duckworth

Her works are a lasting part of Illinois' landscape. Duckworth's Clouds Over Lake Michigan, 1976, is a figurative depiction of the Lake Michigan watershed and can be seen today at the Chicago Board Options Exchange Building.

Whilst living in Chicago's North Side in the 1970's, Duckworth created large-scale bronze pieces for Eastern Illinois University, as well other institutions such as Lewis and Clark Community College and Northeastern Illinois University.

A retrospective of her work titled Ruth Duckworth: Modernist Sculptor opened in 2005 at New York’s Museum of Arts & Design.

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 12.12.52 Nude and Sunflower, an oil on paper by Ruth Duckworth

This December, Mallams, in Oxford, UK, will features 19 works by Duckworth which were all produced by the ceramist in London before she moved to Chicago.

The pieces have been in a private collection for over 50 years. The Henly collection, to be sold on December 7-8, is an important historical note in the development of an artist who shaped new ways of thinking about ceramics in the second half of the 20th century. The series of tablewares and small-scale sculptural pieces will carry estimates of between $150-700 (£100-500) each with a rare example of Duckworth’s painting: the oil on paper composition titled Nude and Sunflower estimated at $1 300-2 600 (£1000-2000.)

Closest to the sweeping wall sculptures Duckworth went on to create in Chicago in the 1970's is a 1.22m wall plaque from 1962 titled January Sunflower. The work was exhibited at the City of Bradford Art Gallery, UK, in 1963, it is expected to bring $4 000-6 700 (£3000-5000.)

Mallams' Design, Modern British & Post-war Art auction will be held on December 7 and 8. Check out more here.

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