Carol and Herbert Diamond at the Clark Society preview of Jennifer Steinkamp: Blind Eye, Lunder Center at Stone Hill, June 29, 2018. Photo by Tucker Bair
When Herbert and Carol Diamond began buying art in 1964, they did not consider themselves collectors. The newlyweds acquired pieces they liked and could afford. Novices to the art world, they were on equal footing. As Carol puts it, “It was one area where neither knew more than the other.” Together they visited dealers, learned about artists, and made purchasing decisions. According to Carol, “The chase was the fun. It was an adventure.” As their enthusiasm and knowledge grew, so did their acquisitions. Eventually, it became clear that the Diamonds were indeed collectors.
Initially acquiring primarily early twentieth-century American art, the Diamonds had shifted their focus to nineteenth-century French art by the 1980s. To date, they have amassed a collection of more than 160 French drawings and sculptures, including works by Pierre Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856), Edgar Degas (1834–1917), Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), and Odilon Redon (1840–1916), among others. Unlike some collectors who keep artworks in storage, the Diamonds have always preferred to live with theirs. Some of Carol’s most cherished drawings have been displayed in their bedroom, while Herbert has gravitated to the works displayed in the den. For them, part of the joy has always been giving thought to placement, pondering and rearranging works as new arrivals enter their home.
Ultimately, the couple realized a desire to have their collection permanently available to and appreciated by the public. The Diamonds first visited the Clark in the 1970s, when they spent summers in the Berkshires with their growing family. Eventually, the couple relocated to the area from Pittsburgh, where Herbert was chair of medicine at Western Pennsylvania Hospital, and Carol was a speech pathologist. After their move to western Massachusetts in 2012, the Diamonds became frequent visitors of the Clark, attending a variety of the museum’s educational programs and social and cultural events, which led them to explore the collection in depth and make personal connections with museum staff. Passionately sharing the vision Sterling and Francine Clark had for this museum, as a place where beloved artworks are preserved for posterity, the Diamonds decided that the Clark would make an ideal eventual home for their French art collection.
Adapted from “Immediate and Lasting Impact: The Diamond Gift” by Terri Boccia, published in Journal of the Clark, Volume 19 (2018)