The Gate of Heroes: Harlots and China

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Lars Tharp

For our 10th anniversary celebration lecture, we have invited Lars Tharp to TheArts Society Fylde. Lars is a Ceramics as well as a Hogarth specialist. Most of his current talks focus on the European and the East-West China trade and the material world of the 17th and 18th centuries. He is a regular lecturer and broadcaster, and leads occasional tours to China. Born in Copenhagen, he read Archaeology at Cambridge, was at Sotheby’s for 16 years, and is today London’s Foundling Museum’s ‘Hogarth Ambassador’. He holds an Honorary Doctorate in Art, is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and sits on the court of The Company of Weavers, London’s oldest guild. He has served twice on the Art Fund’s Annual Prize to Museums and Galleries. He has presented numerous programmes on TV and radio; he writes on many subjects and is passionate about music. Lars shares Archie (a black Labrador) with his wife and their two grown-up daughters. Further information can be found on his website.

From the mountains of Jiangxi province in far-off China, down river, over lake and mountain, and finally across oceans, nearly all the Chinese ceramics on display in European museums, stately homes, palaces and personal collections are survivors of an epic journey and of monumental human labour – luxury created in the labour of millions. Each year in the 1600s and 1700s, millions of pieces – services, vases and ornamental wares – were portered over the mountain border into Guangdong province, passing through the aptly-named ‘Gate of Heroes’. Lars will take us on the same journey, the one you may have seen in his 2011 BBC film Treasures of Chinese Porcelain. And knowing the great human labour involved he promises that you will never again pass or look at a piece of Chinese porcelain without this journey coming to mind.

 

Caption: Chinese jar, Ming Dynasty (Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)