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 Conrad D. Diehl  (1842 - 1933)

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Lived/Active: Missouri/Illinois/Ohio      Known for: landscape, portrait, narrative, panorama

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Conrad D. Diehl, a noted 19th century landscape artist, teacher and author, was born near Landau (Gonklingen) Germany, July 16, 1842.  His father, Conrad L. Diehl, was a notary and a leader in the revolution of 1848, for which he forfeited his estate and was sentenced to death.  Fleeing to America, the family settled in St. Clair County, Illinois.  Diehl obtained his principle education at Oakfield, Franklin County, Missouri.

At the age of seventeen, the young man was sent by his father to Munich to complete his art education.  There, in January of 1860, he began five years of study, initially under Kaulbach and Foltz, among the most celebrated of German artists, and later in Paris under Jean Leon Gerome.

Returning to the United States, the artist settled in Chicago where he became an important part of the early establishment of the Academy of Design in that city.  Initially organized in 1866, the group grew and by 1869 was ready to incorporate as a school and a gallery.  One of the initial “incorporators,” Diehl had been hired in April of 1868 to take charge of the drawing school for the sum of $1,000 per year.  The school prospered, and on March 22, 1870 a new Academy of Design building was opened on Adams Street.  This five story building contained, besides classrooms, offices and galleries, room for 19 studios – Diehl’s being #14 on the fourth floor.

Regretfully, the Great Chicago Fire in October of 1871 changed the course of events and affected many lives.   Having lost everything, Diehl, according to Thomas Scharf in his 1883 History of St. Louis, then became actively involved in the art interests of St. Louis, teaching art in the public schools until 1879.  Also, he offered his former Chicago students the advantages of life-study and, as a consequence, drew many of them to his new school in St. Louis.  That school was still in existence in 1879 when the first long-term art school was established there: the St. Louis School of Fine Art.

 Closing his own school the next year, the artist then accepted a teaching position at the University of Missouri-Columbia, replacing George Caleb Bingham.  Eventually becoming a Professor and Chairman of the Art Department, he remained there until the end of the end of the 1885 school year.

In 1886, Conrad D. Diehl, artist, was listed in the Cincinnati City Directory.  Other than several references stating the year of his date of death as 1933, nothing further seems to be known of the remainder of his life.
         
It should be noted that the artist also authored a number of books: Art: Its Relation to Education and The Industries (1880), Prevailing Error in Art Education (1882), and Diehl’s Anatomy for Artists and Students (1888).


Written and submitted October 2005 by Edward Bentley, Art Collector and Researcher from Lansing, Michigan.


Sources include:
 "The Chicago Academy of Design,” The Art Review, January 1871, pp. 14-15
History of Boone County, Missouri, by W. F. Switzler, pp. 851-52
History of Chicago, by A.T. Andreas, 1885, pp. 558-60;
Deutsche Kunstler in Amerika, by Katherina Bott, 1996;
A 1993 draft for “Dictionary of St. Louis Artists,” alphabetical listing, courtesy of the St. Louis Public Library, Art Department.


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