About me

Lars Tharp Ltd (since 1993)

A freelance consultant mainly on Ceramics (buying, curating and selling )I speak and lecture worldwide, on Clay and Culture.  My audiences range from educational institutions (i.e. universities, schools, etc) to other learned plus arts and heritage societies (including The Arts Society (accredited speaker), National Trust, The Royal Institution, The Harveyan Society, The Oriental Ceramic Society, The English Ceramics Circle), plus friends of various Museums and Galleries (e.g. the V&A, Ashmolean, Fitzwilliam) as well as, to Festivals, ConferencesSocial, Corporate and Business gatherings as well as private functions. 

Keynote, motivational and after-dinner / gueat speaker, drawing from 40 years in the world of Art.

I devise and lead Cultural Tours for various travel companies (including Martin Randall Travel and ACE) with visits to visiting China, Scandinavia, Germany as well as London and other UK venues.

Over three antipodean tours for the Arts Society (N)ADFAS) I have spoken to all thirty-six Australian Societies plus all seven NZ societies. In November 2016 I give the inaugural lecture of the newly formed Arts Society society in Penang, Malaysia, returning in 2018.

  • Active in the auction world for over 40 years,  joining Sothebys, London (in 1977), becoming a director of the firm; 
  • In 1993 I established my own consultancyadvising individuals, institutions and companies on the purchase, care and disposal of all artworks, Ceramics and Oriental Works of Art a speciality.  For areas requiring expertise from elsewhere we draw on a trusted and discreet network of experts built up over 40 years  
  • Clients have included owners of one of the world's most expensive CHinese vases as well as families involved in  potentially awkward family division/inheritance 
  • As assessor I have I served  of juries for the annual Art Fund Prize (Museums and Galleries), 
  • As curator and museum director (Foundling Museum, London) I have created and/or presided over several exhibitions including:    
    Hogarth’s China ( London1997 and Wedgwood 1999); 
    Celebrating Ceramics (2005-2006) (three exhibitions for York Museums Trust 
    Threads of Feeling (Foundling Museum, with guest curator John Styles)Tracey Emin, Paula Rego and Matt Collishaw (with guest curator Jill Hedley)
  • member of the steering committee for York's Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA);
  • president of International Ceramics Festival (next in 2019) 

As a freelance broadcaster I work regularly with the BBC: from 1986 to 2018 on the Antiques Roadshow, plus dozens of TV and Radio programmes including my own series, Inside Antiques (BBC2), Hidden Treasures (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 Scandinavian knitwear ; 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 the long-missing terracotta model by L-F Roubiliac.

Before two recent series of Griff Rys Jones's Quizeum I have appeared in several light-hearted programmes including Call My Bluff and was on the victorious team of University Challenge Christmas 2013 (Gonville and Caius Alumni)

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 How to spot a Fakes, the other on 20th Century Antiques.
contributor/ occasional columnist
 to newspapers and magazines

In brief

Born in 1954 in Copenhagen, educated in England. Influenced from an early age by my Danish grandfather - a classical philologist, archaeologist and musuem curator. In the 1970s I read archaeology ('Arch and Anth') at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University.  The Master of my college  was the legendary Joseph Needham, genius of the multi-volume History of Chinese Science and Civilization (CUP).  Then,, at Sothebys I specialized in Chinese Ceramics under the late Julian Thompson  becoming director and auctioneer and representing the company throughout its European offices.  

Today I live with my family in Leicestershire from where we run the Lars Tharp business.

Honours and Elections

  • Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2011
  • Honorary Doctorate of Arts (DMU 2003) 
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters (Leicester University 2016).
  • I serve on the Court of, the Worshipful Company of Weavers London's oldest recorded guild (fl.1130).