January 2021 • New York
Portrait of Hester Diamond by Carla van de Puttelaar for the project: Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World

D ynamic, unpredictable, and incomparable, Hester Diamond was a fearless and visionary collector. Whether through the expressive qualities of the paintings and sculpture in her apartment, the electric colors of her furniture, or in the mesmerizing patterns of the textiles she chose, each piece in her collection personifies Hester’s distinct vision and the freedom that came with being true to herself. The ability to pursue her passions with such conviction and clarity not only propelled Hester to build an extraordinary career as a venerated art dealer and interior designer, but, in a remarkable feat, to assemble important collections of both Modernist works and Old Master Paintings and Sculpture from the ground up that were of equal quality and breadth.

While others were intimidated by change, Hester embraced it with a fervor, never hesitating to start anew. A dull, stagnant life was of no interest to her and she instinctively knew how to challenge the status quo with a fresh perspective. Hester was born into a family of immigrants and she grew up in the Bronx. While working as a social worker in her twenties, she and her first husband, Harold Diamond, approached Barbara Hepworth, an artist whose work she admired but whom she had never met, offering to represent her in the United States. To their surprise, Hepworth accepted, and from there on, friendships with artists and collectors ensued and the Diamonds began their career as prominent art dealers. With the same combination of drive and luck, Hester then switched professions into interior design.

Dynamic, unpredictable, and incomparable, Hester Diamond was a fearless and visionary collector.

After amassing and then selling her important collection of Modern Art, which was comprised of works by Brancusi, Picasso and Mondrian among others, Hester then dove into the entirely different field of Old Master Paintings and Sculpture with her second husband, Ralph Kaminsky. With the same decisiveness that informed her shift in focus, she, in time, upended the look of her apartment and replaced her 18th- and 19th-century furniture with pieces from the 21st century. Even her interior designer was taken aback when she asked for more color, and not less, in her redesigned apartment. Over the years, and naturally for her, she presented her Contemporary furniture and Old Master Paintings and Sculpture alongside a burgeoning collection of minerals, another new field in which she quickly became an expert.

Hester was a prolific and passionate collector and traveled extensively in search of quality. She acquired masterpieces by art historical titans such as Bernini and Dosso Dossi, but also recognized the beauty in the hands of anonymous masters, and the fresh viewpoints of contemporary voices like Barry X Ball and Bill Viola. The ease in which Hester displayed art and objects across time periods demonstrated the frivolity of artificial barriers imposed among collecting categories, and she proved that they could be broken.

Highlights from the Collection

The auctions include an array of Old Master Paintings and Sculpture, Contemporary artworks, modern furniture, books, minerals and memorabilia from the collection of Hester Diamond.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Jörg Lederer (Füssen or Kaufbeuren circa 1470-1548/50 Kaufbeuren) South German, Kaufbeuren, Saint Sebastian, circa 1515-1520. Estimate $600,000–1,000,000; Aurelio Lombardo (Venice 1501 - 1563 Recanti), Dido, circa 1525. Estimate $400,000–600,000; Giovanni di Niccolò de Lutero called Dosso Dossi, The Sicilian Games; The Plague at Pergamea. Estimate $3,000,000–5,000,000; Pieter Cocke van Aelst, A Triptych: The Nativity, The Adoration of the Magi, and Presentation in the Temple. Estimate $2,500,000 – 3,500,000.

Autumn: A Masterpiece by Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini

F ew artists have changed the history of art as dramatically as Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Even if he had died at twenty-five, he would be remembered as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo, and as one of the supreme protagonists in the history of Western art. In his formative years Gian Lorenzo brought sculpture to a level never before imagined and gave life to a new figurative language, the Baroque, which dominated all of Europe for nearly two centuries.

This exceptional and powerful figure of Autumn is an indisputable early masterpiece in which Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s direct involvement can be identified. It is one of a handful of sculptures by Gian Lorenzo and his father, Pietro, from this period, examples of which are in the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Carved in around 1616, when Gian Lorenzo was eighteen years old and still working on the commissions given to his father, Autumn was made for Prince Leone Strozzi, one of the Berninis’ first major patrons in Rome. Autumn’s dynamism and expressiveness betray the virtuoso skill of a master and a young genius who revolutionized the outmoded Mannerist sensibility of his father. This exceptional marble figure represents the young sculptor’s bravura and the moment when Gian Lorenzo began to eclipse his father in skill and conception.

Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s | Autumn

Visionary Interiors
Click the red ‘hot spots’ to learn more about the wide-ranging collection of art, furniture and décor that comprised Hester Diamond’s vibrant New York apartment.
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  • XU ZHEN
    Spread Forest
    Executed in 2010.
    Synthetic tree and umbrella
    Tree: 90 by 72 by 72 in.
    Umbrella: 33 by 33 by 24 in.

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  • BILL VIOLA
    Ablutions
    Executed in 2005
    Edition of 7
    Color video diptych on two plasma displays mounted vertically on wall
    Overall: 40 by 48 by 4 ¼ in.

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  • JÖRG LEDERER
    St. Sebastian
    German, circa 1515-20
    Polychrome limewood
    Height: 46 in.

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  • DOMUS DESIGN COLLECTION

    Extendable Dining Table
    Lacquered metal
    29 ½ x 106 x 41 ¼ inches

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  • ALESSANDRO FEI
    Christ at the Column
    Circa 1575
    Oil on panel
    46 ½ by 34 ⅞ in.; 118 by 88.5 cm.

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  • NIKOLAOS TZAFOURIS
    Sudarion (St. Veronica's Veil), St. George, St. Francis and St. Anthony, the Deesis: a polytych
    Late 15th Century
    Tempera and gold ground on panel

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  • DROR BENSHETRIT
    Peacock Chair
    Circa 2009
    Manufactured by Capellini
    Blue felt, metal
    33 ½ x 43 x 36 inches

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  • FILIPPINO LIPPI
    Penitent Mary Magdalene adoring the True Cross in a Rocky Landscape
    1570s
    Possibly tempera grassa on panel, with a shaped top and a later engaged frame

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  • MARCEL WANDERS
    "Print" Sofa
    Circa 2005
    Produced by Moroso, Italy Fabric upholstery

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  • GIUSEPPE AND BARTOLOMEO MAZZUOLI
    The Lamentation
    Italian, 1710-25
    Terracotta
    54 by 51 ½ by 9 ¼ in.

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  • TORD BOONTJE
    "Witch" Chair
    Circa 2004
    Manufactured by Moroso, Italy
    Leather upholstery, metal, foam

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