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‘We’re standing in front of one of the most exciting discoveries to have been made in maybe the last 10 years in the field of American decorative arts,’ says specialist John Hays, who instantly recognised the ‘Hadley’ chest when it was presented to him, unidentified, in a photograph.
‘It was one of those moments when you say, “Wow, where did you get that?”’ says Hays. Intricately decorated, the chest is unexpectedly contemporary in design. ‘It tells you that the cabinetmakers in 1715 were far more innovative than we ever thought before,’ says Hays. ‘The whole idea of modernity has to be rethought.’
In this video, Hays describes how the lost work was rediscovered on the West Coast of America, having long been sought by furniture conservators. ‘This is the Rosetta stone for a small group of pieces that survive from the 18th century,’ he says. ‘It really is an artistic masterpiece’.
Find out more about our New York sales of American Furniture and Decorative Arts, or browse more videos from the Discovery series.