Lars Tharp

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Lars Broholm Tharp
Born(1954-03-27)March 27, 1954
Copenhagen, Denmark
ResidenceLeicestershire, England
EducationWyggeston Grammar School for Boys
Alma materGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
OccupationHistorian, lecturer and broadcaster
Notable workTreasures of Chinese Porcelain (BBC 2011); China in Six Easy Pieces (BBC 2013); Quizeum
Televisionnumerous TV and radio series, documentaries and series including (since 1986) Antiques Roadshow

Lars Broholm Tharp (born 27 March 1954, Copenhagen, Denmark)[1] is a Danish-born British historian, lecturer and broadcaster, and one of the longest running 'experts' on the BBC antiques programme, Antiques Roadshow, first appearing in 1986.

Early life and education[edit]

Tharp was born in Copenhagen on 27 March 1954, the son of Harry Tharp and Anne Marie Broholm.[1] His maternal grandfather was the keeper of Antiquities at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen and an expert on the Bronze Age.[2] After moving to England aged 6 Lars was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester, England, before studying for an undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University.[1]


In 1977, a year after graduating, Tharp began working as an auctioneer at Sotheby's, where he specialised in European and Chinese ceramics.[1] Tharp continued to work with Sotheby's for sixteen years, becoming a director in 1983.[1] He left to form his own company 'Lars Tharp Ltd' in 1993. In 2008 he was appointed the Director of the Foundling Museum in London, and Visiting Professor at De Montfort University, Leicester. Today (2015) he represents the Foundling Museum as its Ambassador, and as "Hogarth Curator".

Tharp is also well known for his regular appearances (1986 to present) as a ceramics expert on the British antiques programme Antiques Roadshow. Tharp explained the appeal of the programme as follows:

"The joy of The Antiques Roadshow is its variety -as well as the possibility that someone may bring something along used as a dog's bowl or an umbrella stand which turns out to be worth a fortune."[3]

Representing Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, he joined fellow Caians Helen Castor, Mark Damazer (captain) and Quentin Stafford-Fraser to win the Alumni University Challenge 2013.

Tharp is a noted William Hogarth enthusiast. Noting The artist's theatrical use of ceramics in his paintings and prints he wrote "Hogarth's China" to accompany an exhibition timed to commemorate the artist's tercentenary (1997). The exhibition was expanded andran at Wedgwood in the following year.

Tharp devised three further exhibitions for York Museum Trust under the umbrella 'Celebrating Ceramics' (2003). He was a member of YMT's steering group setting up their Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA).

Tharp has received two Honorary Doctorates: from De Montfort University (HonDArt); and from Leicester University (HonDLitt) and was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2010. He serves on the court of England's oldest recorded guild, the Worshipful Company of Weavers (est. by 1130AD).

An accredited speaker for (inter alia) The Arts Society (NADFAS), Tharp lectures throughout Europe, Asia and Australasia and leads cultural tours to China, Dresden, Scandinavia and within the UK.

Personal life[edit]

Tharp lives in Leicestershire with his wife Gillian Block, whom he married in 1983. They have two daughters.[1]

Apart from antiques, Tharp has a particular interest in music, having played the cello since the age of eight. He also lists travel among his interests, leading cultural tours in Britain, China and Scandinavia.[1]

Media appearances[edit]


All BBC unless stated:


  • Hidden Treasures (1998-2002) - chairman/ co-writer
  • Out of the Fire (2000) - presenter
  • For What It's Worth (2002-2006) - presenter
  • Archive Hour (Radio 4): Men in Bow Ties (2007) - presenter
  • On the China Trail (2007) - presenter
  • Earth to Earth: Potted Immortality (2009) - presenter
  • Twenty Minutes: There's Something About the Cello (2011) - presenter

"A journey around Hans Christian Andersen" (2005 - co-presenter with Michael Rosen)


  • The Little, Brown Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Antiques (ed. with Paul Atterbury), 1994
  • Hogarth's China: Hogarth's Paintings and Eighteenth-century Ceramics, 1997
  • Reader's Digest: Treasures in Your Home (with David Battie)
  • How to Spot a Fake, 1999
  • A-Z of 20th Century Antiques (ed.), 2000


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 'THARP, Lars Broholm', Who's Who 2011, A & C Black, 2011; online edn, Oxford University Press, December 2010 (accessed 23 September 2011).
  2. ^ David Battie and Fiona Malcolm (2005). The Antiques Roadshow. Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 1-84533-060-9.
  3. ^ Coles, John (30 January 2010). "Lars' joy over Sun antiques". The Sun.

External links[edit]