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Imagine someone creates a piece of art, but nobody notices it. Like a great book, which nobody reads because nobody knows that it exists.

What are some powerful words or metaphors for this condition?

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  • There are several, but they don't get much play.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 6, 2016 at 14:18
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    "Overlooked masterpiece" is a fairly straightforward descriptive phrase. And a relevant pair of modifiers might be "brilliant but underappreciated."
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 9, 2016 at 3:36

2 Answers 2

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To be "ahead of one's time" springs to mind, as well as "unsung".

"She was so far ahead of her time that her work remained unsung for centuries."

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Hidden gem comes to mind. The word gem is in itself used metaphorically:

something prized especially for great beauty or perfection

[M-W] 2 : a

Cf. also this earlier post.

People may also occasionally use a diamond in the rough; this phrase, which I originally suggested, appears to have a range of meanings, including "Someone who is basically good hearted but lacking social graces and respect for the law." (source), and therefore appears less suitable. Thanks to Oldbag for pointing out the ambiguity.

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  • +1 for "hidden gem" - but, in my experience, "a diamond in the rough" is mostly used (nowadays) ironically (to describe a lovable loser) or, sarcastically (to describe a real slob). (US)
    – Oldbag
    Feb 6, 2016 at 16:35
  • @Oldbag Thank you. I looked up a few instances, and I agree that quite often it is used as you say, or (perhaps even more) as "a gifted but socially uncouth person" etc. I will edit.
    – anemone
    Feb 6, 2016 at 16:56

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