Bonhams appoint Joe Earle as a senior consultant for the Japanese Art Department in Europe and the USA

Bonhams is delighted to announce the appointment of the distinguished Asian Art specialist Joe Earle, as a Senior Consultant for its Japanese Art Department who starts his new brief on October 1 in London.

Joe Earle has worked for nearly 40 years in the field of Asian and Japanese arts and cultures and has occupied senior curatorial positions at top museums in both the United Kingdom and the United States. A graduate of Oxford University, he joined London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A) in 1974 and in 1983 was appointed Keeper of the Far Eastern Department, the youngest person ever to hold such a post in a U.K. national museum. As Keeper, he led a project to establish a major permanent Japanese gallery at the V&A, the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art, which opened in December 1986.

Joe Earle also has long experience of the commercial art world, having worked as a freelance consultant from 1990 through 2003, carrying out Japanese art cataloguing and exhibition projects for prominent collectors and dealers throughout the world.

From 2003 until 2012 he was resident in the United States, serving first as Chair of the Department of Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston and most recently as Vice-President of Japan Society (New York) and Director of Japan Society Gallery. Under his leadership, the MFA's legendary collection of 50,000 Japanese woodblock prints was digitised and made available online, and the museum started work on the major exhibition of its Japanese masterpieces which is currently touring Japan.

At Japan Society, Joe Earle has organised a dozen exhibitions ranging from Zen painting, woodblock prints, and the art of Shibata Zeshin to contemporary ceramics and bamboo, manga, anime, Japanese Deco, and contemporary art. His last exhibition, which opened in New York two days ago, is Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai Hōitsu (1761– 1828.). He has authored, translated, edited, or contributed to more than 20 major publications on Japanese art.

Joe Earle comments: "I am tremendously excited to have been given the opportunity to take on this role at a time of unprecedented worldwide interest in Japanese art. I look forward to working with my colleagues to strengthen Bonhams market share, develop new areas of collecting interest, and introduce new clients to the potential of a uniquely rich and varied artistic tradition extending from prehistoric times to the present day and beyond."

Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia, says: "Joe has a 'flying' role as a senior business getter in the US and Europe. His addition to the team will doubtless boost our strength thanks to his unrivalled expertise and his network of contacts among both academics and collectors the world over. We are truly delighted to have secured the appointment of such a distinguished colleague in the field of Asian art."

Joe Earle – Biog:
Exhibitions and Related Activities

"Fans from the East," Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, U.K. and Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1978; contributing curator

"Japan Style," Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1980; curator and organizer

New Gallery of Japanese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1981; curator and organizer

"Modern Japanese Lacquer Art: A Family of Kyoto Craftsmen," Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1981; curator and organizer

"The Great Japan Exhibition," Royal Academy of Arts, London, U.K., 1981–1982; contributing curator and member of Executive, Catalogue, Content and Design, and Merchandise Committees

"Japanese Ceramics Today," Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1983; curator and organizer

"Classical Korean Embroideries," Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1984; executive curator

The Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1986; executive organiser and fund-raiser

"Visions of Japan," Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K., 1991; freelance curator

Exhibitions coordinator, The Japan Festival 1991. Participated in development of over twenty exhibitions including "Mingei: The Living Tradition in Japanese Art," "New Japanese Graphics," "Shiko Munakata: Master of the Japanese Woodblock Print," "Metropolis: Tokyo Design Visions," "Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue, 1850–1930," "Hokusai," and "Contemporary Japanese Calligraphy."

"British Design 1790–1990," South Coast Plaza, Orange County, California, 1990; co-organizer

"Songs of My People," 1992–94, European tour for TimeWarner Inc.; organizer

"Samuel Courtauld and his Collections: the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists," Courtauld Institute Galleries, Somerset House, London, 1994; arranged sponsorship

"Designed in One, Made in the Other: New Products of Collaboration between Britain and Japan," Design Museum, London, 1994; consultant to NSK RHP (Europe) Ltd.

"Rondon chikatetsu aato posutaaten (London Transport Poster Exhibition)", Nagoya and Tokyo, 1994; organizer

"Da un antico castello inglese: oggetti d'arte della collezione di Burghley House (From an old English castle: works of art from the collection of Burghley House)," La Rinascente, Milan, Italy, 1994; organiser and part author of catalogue

"Tsuki ichinyo tei (the Shared Moon Garden)," Westlakes Research Institute, Whitehaven, Cumbria, U.K., 1995; commissioner and organizer

"Shibata Zeshin: Masterpieces of Japanese Lacquer from the Khalili Collection," Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1997; executive curator

Loan of Impressionist paintings from the Courtauld Institute Galleries to Nihon Keizai Shimbunsha, Japan, 1997-8; chief contract negotiator

"Splendors of Meiji: Treasures of Imperial Japan," First USA Riverfront Arts Centre, Wilmington, Delaware, 1999; curator

"Serizawa: Master of Japanese Textile Design," National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2001; co-organizer and catalogue producer

"Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji Period from the Khalili Collection," Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, 2002; consultant

"Netsuke: Fantasy and Reality in Japanese Miniature Sculpture," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2003–4; curator

"Rupert Spira: Ceramics," Japan (five venues), 2003-4; co-organizer and catalogue producer

"Lethal Elegance: Japanese Sword Fittings," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2004–; curator

"Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2005–6; curator

"Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century," Japan Society, New York, 2006–7; curator

"Beyond Basketry: Japanese Bamboo Art," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2006–7; curator

"The Genius of Lacquer: Masterworks by Shibata Zeshin," Japan Society, New York, 2008; curator

"New Bamboo," Japan Society, New York, 2008; curator

"Buriki: Japanese Tin Toys from the Golden Age of the American Automobile," Japan Society, New York, 2009; curator

"Serizawa: Master of Japanese Textile Design," Japan Society, New York, 2009; curator

"Fiber Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers," Japan Society, New York, 2011; juror and co-curator

Other Positions Held

Japan Foundation Research Fellow, Kyoto, Japan, 1983
Trustee, Design Museum, London, 1987–2002
Advisory Panel, National Art Collections Fund, London, 1996–
Consultant, Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd., Japanese Department, London, 1998–2003
Steering Committee, "Japan 2001," 1999–2001
"Visualising Cultures" Steering Committee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007−
Executive Committee, Japanese Art Society of America, 2007−2012

(author unless otherwise stated)

An Introduction to Netsuke (1980)
An Introduction to Japanese Prints (1980)
Japan Style (1980) (contributor and translator)
The Great Japan Exhibition (1981) (contributor and editor)
The Japanese Sword (1983) (translator and editor)
"Object of the Month: Japanese Export Lacquer Tankard," Orientations (April 1093), 24–7
"Genji Meets Yang Guifei: A Group of Japanese Export Lacquers," Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society (1982 3), 45 75
"Katzumie Masaru and the Victoria and Albert Museum," Graphic Design (June 1984), 54
"Object of the Month: Edo Lacquer Paper and Writing Set," Orientations (June 1986), 54–6
"The Taxonomic Obsession: British Collectors and Japanese Objects, 1852 1986," Burlington Magazine, 1005 (Dec. 1986), 864 73
"The Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art," Orientations (Dec. 1986), 26–7
"Japanese Sword Fittings," Orientations (Dec. 1986), 28–31
"What Shall We Do About Japanese Lacquer: A Selection of Edo-Period Lacquers," Orientations (Dec. 1986), 53–61
Japanese Art and Design (1986) (author and editor)
"Far Eastern Works of Art," "Gaming Set," "Pair of Knife-Cases," and "Pair of 'Union Suits'," entries in Treasures from India: The Clive Collection at Powis Castle (1987), 126, 128, and 129
"Visions, Ironies and Exhibitions: The Japanese Festival 1991," Oriental Art (Autumn 1991), 130–6
"Ooh-la-la! at the V&A: 'Visions of Japan and Its Critics'," Japan Digest (January 1992), 12–16
"Exhibition Reviews. Kamakura: The Renaissance of Japanese Sculpture, Hokusai: Prints and Paintings, and Mingei: The Living Tradition in Japanese Arts, Oriental Art (Spring 1992), 60–1
"Keep the Asian Flag Flying," Orientations (May 1994), 86
The Khalili Collection of Japanese Art: Lacquer (1995) (editor)
Flower Bronzes of Japan (1995)
The Index of Inro Artists (1995) (editor)
The Khalili Collection of Japanese Art: Masterpieces by Shibata Zeshin (1996) (author and editor)
Shadows and Reflections: Japanese Lacquer Art from the Collection of Edmund J. Lewis (Honolulu, 1996) (author and editor)
"Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Lacquer," Elle Decoration (Hong Kong, Nov. 1996), 56–62
"Japanese Bronze Vessels," Orientations (Dec. 1996), 53–6
Japanese Inro and Lacquerware from a Private Swedish Collection (London, 1996) (contributor and editor)
Flowers of the Chisel (London, 1997)
"Shibata Zeshin – Master of Iki," Orientations (May 1997), 72–6
Miyabi Transformed (London, 1997) (contributor and editor)
Shibata Zeshin - Masterpieces of Japanese Lacquer from the Khalili Collection (London, 1997)
The Robert S. Huthart Collection of Non-Iwami Netsuke (London, 1998) (contributor and editor)
Splendors of Meiji: Treasures of Imperial Japan, Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection (Wilmington, Delaware, 1999)
Japanese Art of the Meiji and Taisho Periods (1999)
Infinite Spaces: The Art and Wisdom of the Japanese Garden (translations from the 11th-century Sakuteiki) (London, 2000)
"East Meets West," (translation of article by Hidemichi Tanaka), Quarterly (The Magazine of the National Art Collections Fund, Summer 2000), 42–49
Japanese Lacquer: The Chiddingstone Castle Collection (London, 2000)
Inro and Lacquer from the Jacques Carré Collection (London, 2000)
The Robert S. Huthart Collection of Iwami Netsuke (Hong Kong, 2000)
Asian Art in London Journal (Winter 2000) (senior editor)
Serizawa: Master of Japanese Textile Design (Sendai, 2001) (editor and translator)
Netsuke: Fantasy and Reality in Japanese Miniature Sculpture (Boston, 2001)
Scooping The Clouds: Seven Centuries of Ink Painting (London, 2001) (compiler and author)
Genji and Ōmi: Imperial Album Painting (London, 2001) (compiler and author)
Asian Art in London Journal (2001) (senior editor)
"Japanese Bronzes of the Early Meiji Period (1868–1912): Meaning and Motivation," Apollo, vol. 154, no. 477 (Nov. 2001), pp. 36–41
Splendours of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji Period from the Khalili Collection (London, 2002)
Netsuke and Inrō from European Collections (London, 2002)
"Marketing the Marvellous: The Promotion of Textiles and Ceramics in the Later Meiji Era," Orientations, (Sept. 2002), 63–70
Malcolm Fairley Japanese Works of Art (2002)
"Lacquer: Layers of Enlightenment," Masterpiece (Winter 2002), 57–60
Lethal Elegance: The Art of Samurai Sword Fittings (Boston, 2004)
"Shizai binjazu," "Kansharikōzu," "Sen to shikkan," "Genbu shinzō," "Butsu zazō," "Sōshi Kannonzō," "Ningyōgata chin,"entries in Bosuton bijutsukan no kyoshōtachi: Aishiki hitobito (Masterworks from the MFA, Boston, Celebrating the Human Form in Art; Nagoya, 2005), 74–8, 82–3, 119
Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century (Boston, 2005)
"Chōsen bijutsu no naka no kachō," "Gin hōō suibyō, suiban," "Kachō zu (kakesuzu, kasasagi zu)," "Kachō zu," "Nihon no kodōgu ni hodokosareta kachō sōshoku," "Tsuba (matsu ni taka)," "Tsuba (Hishō suru kari)," "Kozuka (kaze ni nabiku botan)," "Fuchigashira (aki no kusabana to mushi)," "Menuki (taka)," "Menuki (kari to botan)," "Botangata kanamono," entries in Kachōga no kirameki (The Brilliance of Bird-and-Flower Painting: Gems of East Asian Art; Nagoya, 2005), 64, 66–70, 90–2.
"Rice Container," "Spatula," "Bottle," "Lobed Tray," "Incense Box," "Sake Ewer," "Brazier," "Incense or Cosmetic Box," Robe Rack," entries in Melanie Trede ed., Arts of Japan: The John C. Weber Collection (Berlin, 2006)
"Japanese Lacquers in the John C. Weber Collection," Orientations (October
2006), 58–63
"Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century" (Exhibition brochure, New York, 2006)
"More a lingering Edo blossom than a flower of Meiji" (Introduction to the catalogue Zeshin: The Catherine and Thomas Edson Collection, San Antonio, 2007)
Highlights of the Japanese Collection (MFA, Boston, 2008; contributor).
The Genius of Japanese Lacquer: Masterworks by Shibata Zeshin (Exhibition brochure, New York, 2008)
New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters (2008)
Buriki: Japanese Tin Toys from the Golden Age of the American Automobile (2009)
Serizawa: Master of Japanese Textile Design (2009; editor and translator)
"Melk's Golden Acres," by Nobuko Takagi, in Speculative Japan (Fukuoka, 2011) (translator, under the nom de plume Dink Tanaka)
Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art (2011; partial translator)
"Kurafuto, "Good Design," Sake, and Soy Sauce: Consumer Ceramics In Postwar Japan," in Birds of Dawn: Pioneers of Japan's Sôdeisha Ceramic Movement (New York, 2011)
Fibre Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers (2011; contributor, compiler, and translator)
Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828) (2012; editor)
"A White Camellia in a Vase," by Ken Asamatsu (forthcoming; translator)
Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori (forthcoming; essay translator)


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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