About me

Lars Tharp Ltd...

I speak and lecture worldwide on Clay and Culture.  My audiences range from educational institutions (i.e. universities, schools, etc) to other learned and arts and heritage societies (including The Arts Society (accredited speaker), National Trust, The Royal Institution, The Harveyan Society, Oriental Ceramic Society, The English Ceramics Society), friends of  Museums and Galleries (e.g. the V&A, Ashmolean, Fitzwilliam), to Festivals, ConferencesSocial, Corporate and Business gatherings as well as private functions.  From keynote to motivational and after-dinner speeches, the aim always: "To Inform and Entertain".

I devise and host Cultural Tours for various travel companies (including Martin Randall Travel and ACE), visiting China, Scandinavia, Dresden as well as London and other UK venues.

In February-March I completed my third DFAS tour of Australia, thereby totalling all thirty-six Australian DFAS Societies over six years plus the seven NZ societies twice. In November 2016 I give the inaugural lecture of the newly formed NADFAS society in Penang, Malaysia, to return in 2018.

Active in the auction world since 1977, I today act as consultant and broker to individuals, institutions and companies (including auctioneers).  With 40 years experience in the field I can offer advice on the buying, care and disposal of all artworks.  Having built an extensive network of professional and institutional contacts, where I don't know the answer, I will know someone who does.

As advisor, I have been  closely involved in the eventual sale of one of the world’s most talked about and expensive (eight-figure sterling) vases; while as expert witness to the English courts I have served in knotty cases of family inheritance, valuation and property division.

From 2009 - 2010 I served  on successive juries of the prestigious Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries, our annual  £100,000 award going to Ulster Museum (2009) and to the British Museum (2010).

As a broadcaster I have worked regularly with the BBC: from 1986 to present on the Antiques Roadshow, and subsequently on dozens of TV and Radio programmes including my own series, Inside Antiques (BBC2), Hidden Treasures (as chairman and writer, Radio 4), and on the Art of the Baroque (Radio 2), not to mention the occasional contribution to Woman's Hour  - on knitwear and, on Archive on Four with Men in Bow Ties.  In 2011 and 2013 I filmed two documentaries on the China Trade shown on the BBC and still syndicated throughout the world: Treasures of Chinese Porcelain and China in Six Easy Pieces.  I also filmed One Man and his Pug - a journey with William Hogarth and his pet dogs, in the hope of re-discovering a long-missing terracotta model by L-F Roubiliac. (Still looking.)

From time to time I have also been involved in 'brainy' light-hearted programmes including Call My Bluff and as a team member of University Challenge (2013 Christmas Alumnus Edition  - our college team (Caius, Cambridge) winning the series).

As curator and museum director I have created and/or presided over several exhibitions: Hogarth’s China (guest show at the International Ceramics Fair, London1997 and at Wedgwood 1999); Celebrating Ceramics (2005-2006)(three concurrent exhibitions for York Museums Trust and Art Gallery; Wakefield; and Scarborough);  Threads of Feeling (Foundling Museum, with guest curator John Styles) and Tracey Emin, Paula Rego and Matt Collishaw (with guest curator Jill Hedley). I was on the steering committee for the recently opened Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at York Museum

As author and author/editor I have several books to my name, notably Hogarth’s China (1997); the Little Brown Encyclopaedia of Antiques (with Paul Atterbury); Treasures in your Home (Reader’s Digest, with editor David Battie); and two books for the BBC under the Roadshow banner, one on Fakes, the other on 20th Century Antiques. I also contribute occasional pieces to newspapers and magazines and have had a regular column on The Scandinavian magazine.

Born in Copenhagen I was educated in England. Influenced from an early age by my Danish grandfather -a classical philologist and archaeologist-  I read prehistoric archaeology at Cambridge University.  The Master of my college (Gonville & Caius) was the legendary Joseph Needham, instigator of the still ongoing  (as of 2016) History of Chinese Science and Civilization.  In 1977 I joined auctioneers Sothebys as a junior cataloguer under the wing of late Julian Thompson.  Specializing in Ceramics  -and particularly in Chinese ceramics and Works of Art-  I was appointed director and auctioneer with the London auction house, representing it throughout many of its European offices, from Spain to Scandinavia.  In 1993, after 16-years with the company, I left Sothebys ito set up my own company, Lars Tharp Ltd (see above). My wife and I live in Leicestershire and have two grown-up daughters.

Honours and Elections

I was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2011 and have been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts (DMU 2003) as well as Honorary Doctor of Letters (Leicester University 2016).  I currently serve on the Court of London's oldest recorded guild, the Worshipful Company of Weavers (fl.1130).