Max Rutherston has specialised in Japanese works of art for over 30 years. His career began at Sotheby’s, working in 19th and 20th century European and Russian pictures, followed by a five year spell as a dealer in Modern British pictures. After a visit to Tokyo in 1990 he underwent a Damascene conversion and in 1992 rejoined Sotheby’s to work in the Japanese Department. After a year devoted almost exclusively to studying the Japanese language, he applied himself to learning about the art, working at Sotheby’s for another ten years, in due course becoming department director. In 2002, he moved to Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London’s oldest Asian art gallery, to help manage the gallery and run the Japanese side of the business. Max left in 2010, and in 2013 established an independent business in Bury Street, St. James’s, London, concentrating on netsuke, inro, and other Japanese works of art.
Max’s connoisseurship in his chosen field is widely respected. He has lectured at home and abroad, and written a number of scholarly catalogues on netsuke and other Japanese works of art. In 2010 and 2013, he was jointly involved with organising the London Netsuke Symposium, and in 2014, he was invited to assist Noriko Tsuchiya in the preparation of the British Museum’s publication Netsuke:100 miniature masterpieces from Japan. Max was a Director of Asian Art in London from its inception, and its Chairman from 2010 to 2014.
A polyglot citizen of the world, Max has traveled extensively in pursuit of his business, sourcing stock and selling to an international clientèle. He is a regular visitor to Tokyo, where his Japanese designer wife runs her own fashion business. As a lecturer on netsuke he has addressed audiences in the UK, USA, Norway and Russia, before the current war in Ukraine (at the 44th Moscow Art Fair and in the lecture hall of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). A propos the Hermitage, 5 impromptu video discussions on netsuke in the museum’s collection can be seen on its website. Max has exhibited at TEFAF Maastricht, and several years consecutively at Parcours des Mondes, Paris. He was for several years chairman of the Japanese vetting committee for Masterpiece London, and in October 2018 exhibited at London’s prestigious Frieze Masters fair. The business is now located in the West London suburb of Ealing, easily accessible from Central London and conveniently close to Heathrow Airport