Arthur Vidal Diehl, artist, friend of Dr. Walter Guy

Arthur Vidal Diehl was a British-born, impressionist artist, who lived in a number of United States cities, and playgrounds of the wealthy, including St. Augustine, Florida. He became friends with the Guys shortly after they moved to St. Augustine in 1919.


The first actual public lectures in St. Augustine about the Baha’is were given by Mrs. Mary Hanford Ford at the art studio of Arthur Diehl. Arthur Vidal Diehl had a similar life to Dr. Guy, at least in terms of geography. Diehl was an Englishman like Dr. Guy, but born in the big city of London, and later immigrated to the United States in the 1890s. He became most well known for his landscape paintings of Provincetown, Massachusetts. He also had studios in other cities, including Worcester, Turo, and Boston, Massachusetts; Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and significantly, for our story, St. Augustine, Florida. He never became a Baha’i, but was drawn to their teachings, and allowed Mrs. Ford to use his studio for six lectures. Like Dr. Guy he was drawn from England to America, and from Massachusetts, to Florida. St. Augustine, like Provincetown, was an oceanside village that even in that era drew artists, free thinkers, and the wealthy and widely traveled. Diehl’s studio was at 14 1/2 St. George Street and shared the location with  a tea shop. This location is currently the site of The Oldest Schoolhouse, a perennial tourist attraction.

Arthrur Diehl was present at the first Naw-Ruz feast offered in the Guy’s home on March 21st of 1920. Naw-Ruz, which takes place on the Vernal Equinox, was historically the Persian New Year. It is still celebrated in modern Iran, along with the Autumnal Equinox, and is also a Baha’i holy day. The history of Naw-Ruz extends back to the earliest times in Iran. It allegedly predates Zoroastrianism, Iran’s traditional monotheistic religion, originating with an mythological antediluvian king. There is frequent mention of Naw-Ruz in the Guy’s correspondence, particularly as it was later observed at the Florida Normal and Industrial Institute, a local black educational institution. The first Naw-Ruz, celebrated at the Guy’s home was attended by twenty-five to thirty people, which must have made them feel optimistic for the Cause in St. Augustine.

The picture of Arthur Diehl posted here was obtained from the German language Wikipedia site.

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