Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Polychrome Hadley Chests

Recently I have been interested in learning more about a certain style of furniture that was made in the Pioneer Valley where we live. I visited Historic Deerfield in May and stumbled upon a carved Hadley Chest. I was immediately taken by the design in the carving primarily because the motifs in the carving were reminiscent of those that I like to use myself. These chests were made in the 1600's and there are not that many that survive. 

Although I don't have photos of the Historic Deerfield carved Hadley Chest I do have some of the one at Memorial Hall in Deerfield. 

Once I started looking into the Hadley Chests, I discovered that there were some that were "Polychrome." Just by the name, I knew I had to look into them and see what they were all about. At first I looked on my friend Google and found this video. 

Then I discovered that there was a Polychrome Chest in the collection of Memorial Hall which is only 20 minutes from our farm. One day this May, I drove down to see it. There it was in all its glory. I spoke to one of the curators and he told me that the chest featured in the above video had been sold at Christie's in January of 2016 went for $1,025,000 (including the buyer's premium). Amazing. 

This is the chest that is at Memorial Hall. It looks like the paint decoration was probably touched up because it is more colorful than the 3 others that survive. Here is the one that is at the Henry Ford Museum and there is also one at Winterthur. 

Here are some detail shots of the Memorial Hall Polychrome Hadley Chest. I hope to incorporate some of the motifs in a project in my upcoming book. I love the geometric simple graphic quality of the motifs. 

I love that way back in the 1600's they used motifs that look so modern. How about the "Target logo"?

So as they say, nothing is new. Everything has been done before! 

Here is another article you can read about the Polychrome Chests from Hadley, Massachuestts. 


Karen Budnick said...

"There is nothing new under the sun." But just because something has been "done before" that should never stop us from creating has never been done by US. Loved this post!

Auntie Shan said...

wow. LOVE them!!

You know, I look at that last one and "see" a Quilt waiting to happen! - Is it all paint, or is some of the design wood inlay?
BTW, I love the Example-Piece on the wall regarding the joinery involved - [my Paternal-Grandfather was apparently a "master"-joiner, between the pro-soccer career and law enforcement]

Anyhoo, too bad one of those wasn't lurking around in a basement or attic when you bought the farmhouse!

Monica said...

So cool! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post and accompanying link. I'll have to get to Winterthur soon to see their example. I learn so much from you posts and newsletters. Thanks for them.

Melissa M

Nan in hot Oklahoma said...

I could see some of those on an Amish barn.

The study of symbols provides a marvelous walk through history. Many people would be surprised to find many of their symbols have been used by many cultures around the world. It would be fun to take selected symbols and find out their earliest usage, how many cultures have used the symbol, were their any connections between the cultures, do the symbols have the same/similar meanings, and so on.

Would love to see one of those chests. Sorry I didn't know about them when I lived in the Metro Detroit area. (Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are must sees.)

Jules Means said...

I love this post and I love what Karen Budnick wrote about the "nothing new under the sun" attitude. She is so right- there is plenty to do and it's new when it's done by US!!