Juliet Thompson

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Juliet Thompson (1873–1956) was an American Bahá'í, painter, and disciple of `Abdu'l-Bahá. She is perhaps best remembered for her book The Diary of Juliet Thompson though she also painted a life-sized portrait of `Abdu'l-Bahá.

From the Library of Congress Photo Collection,Juliet Thompson with her portrait of First Lady Grace Coolidge

Early life and education[edit]

Thompson was born in Washington, D.C.,[1] in 1873. Her parents, James W. Thompson and Celeste,[2] sent her to the Corcoran School of Art[1] (before it was renamed as a college). Her father died when she was 12 and left little money for the family, but Thompson was already able to sell paintings. Thompson was an active member of the community of artists in Washington D.C.[3] and painted a centerpiece of the 1897 Cosmos Club annual show.[4]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

After learning of the Bahá'í Faith in Washington DC near 1898 she traveled to Paris at the invitation of Laura Dreyfus-Barney's mother.[5] Later in 1901 in Paris she met Thomas Breakwell, (see Bahá'í Faith in the United Kingdom), who gave her Arthur de Gobineau's description in French of the Execution of the Báb which confirmed her faith. Paris is where Charles Mason Remey first met Thompson when she was taking classes on the religion from Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl.

Among many talks `Abdu'l-Bahá gave in the United States he gave one at her residence on 15 November 1912 at 48 West Tenth Street, New York.[6] At this meeting he described distinctive qualities of the religion.

During World War I she offered talks on a Bahá'í topic of the Most Great Peace.[7] In the 1940s Thompson made several extended trips to Mexico to promulgate the religion.[5] (See Bahá'í Faith in Mexico.)

Contact with artists[edit]

Thompson recalled Khalil Gibran, a neighbor and acquaintance of hers, and reports several anecdotes relating to Gibran: She recalls Gibran met `Abdu'l-Bahá a couple times circa 1911[8]-1912.[9]

In 1918 Mark Tobey came in contact with Thompson and posed for her. During the session Tobey read some Bahá'í literature and accepted an invitation to Green Acre where he converted.[10]

O.Z. Whitehead attended an informational meeting of the religion in Thompson's home in 1950.[1]

Portrait of `Abdu'l-Bahá[edit]

'Abdu'l-Baha by Juliet Thompson, painted in three sitting in June 1912

And during `Abdu'l-Bahá's first trip to the west in the fall of 1911 she met him at Thonon-les-Bains, France. During the second trip he reached New York - over several days he sat for a life-sized portrait starting June 1st.[11] Of the portrait, `Abdu'l-Bahá said "I want you to paint my servitude to God."[1] On another day of sitting for the portrait, June 19,[12] Thompson witnessed Lua Getsinger given a mission of conveying `Abdu'l-Bahá's status in the religion as the Center of the Covenant (see Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá) and that New York was the City of the Covenant (see perhaps 1992: Second Bahá'í World Congress.)[13] The original of this life sized portrait has been lost, but there are original photographs of the portrait. A reproduction was on display at the Second World Congress, and one is housed in the Seat of the Universal House of Justice just outside its meeting room for the members.[11]


Over her life she made two Bahá'í pilgrimages. Her first was in July, 1909 when she began her diary which was eventually published.[1] Her work is a main source on `Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West when he was in Europe in 1911 as well as some of his travels in the United States in 1912.

Thompson's second pilgrimage was in 1926.[14]


Thompson died on December 9, 1956 at home. At the memorial service held for her at the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, several notable people spoke or sent messages - several Hands of the Cause and Paul E. Haney, Charles Mason Remey, Horace Holley, and Amelia Engelder Collins, and later Universal House of Justice member Charles Wolcott, as well as many notable Bahá'ís.


Thompson's first show as a portrait painter was at the Knoedler's galleries.[15] Thompson worked as a portrait painter for years in Washington D.C.[16] and later in New York[17] though she also had interests in other arts.[18]

Circa 1898 to 1900 she undertook studies while in France and showed her work while there.[19] On return to the States, Thompson moved to New York circa 1902. She was on the Board of Control of The Pastellists founded in 1910, which included Jerome Myers, and Everett Shinn -the president was Leon Dabo.[20]

She also donated of her art for support of various causes - an early free clinic,[21] Women's Suffrage,[22] a project for minding children off street life,[23] and relief for women and children in World War I.[24]

Among the portraits she painted are: Julia Dent Cantacuzène Spiransky-Grant, Hallie Davis, (wife of Stephen Benton Elkins), Rev. Percy Stickney Grant, Baroness Von Freytag-Loringhoven,[25] Grace Coolidge,[26] `Abdu'l-Bahá[5] and Bahíyyih Khánum[27]



  • Thompson, Juliet; Marzieh Gail (1983). The diary of Juliet Thompson. Kalimat Press. p. 396. ISBN 978-0-933770-27-0.
  • Thompson, Juliet (1998). Un maître persan à Thonon-les-Bains. Editions Nicolas Junod. p. 91.
  • Thompson, Juliet (1939). Old Romania. C. Scribner's sons. p. 116.
  • Thompson, Juliet (1939). Abdu'l-Baha: the center of the covenant. C. Scribner's sons. p. 116.
  • Thompson, Juliet (1940). I, Mary Magdalen. Delphic Studios. p. 224.
  • Thompson, Juliet; Marie Sterner Gallery (1941). Yugoslavia, Mexico, abstractions, Juliet Thompson. Marie Sterner Gallery.
  • Thompson, Juliet; Marie Sterner Gallery (1940). Paintings of Romania, Juliet Thompson. Marie Sterner Gallery.


  • Thompson, Juliet (August 1940). "The Valley of Love". World Order.
  • Thompson, Juliet (March 1942). "'Abdu'l-Baha the Center of the Covenant". World Order.
  • Thompson, Juliet (Fall 1971). "A Glimpse of the Master". World Order. 06 (01): 47–66.
  • Thompson, Juliet; Gail, Marzieh (Summer 1978). "Juliet Remembers Gibran; As told to Marzieh Gail". World Order. 12 (04): 29–31. Retrieved 2009-10-26.


  1. ^ a b c d e "A profile of Juliet Thompson - her times with the Master in New Yark". Bahá'í News. No. 518. May 1974. p. 8.
  2. ^ "Will of James W. Thompson". The National Republican. November 20, 1882. p. 3. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  3. ^ "In Their Beautify Home; The Society of Washington Artists' House Warming". The Washington Times, Sunday. November 21, 1897. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  4. ^ "What is going on in Society". The Morning Times of Washington DC. April 4, 1897. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  5. ^ a b c "Early American Baha'is Honor Juliet Thompson at Memorial Service in House of Worship". Bahá'í News. No. 313. March 1957. pp. 10–11.
  6. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1982). Promulgation of Universal Peace. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 431–437.
  7. ^ "Bahai Assembly Address". Washington Times. February 24, 1917. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "Bahai Assembly Address". Washington Times. March 10, 1917. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  8. ^ Cole, Juan. "Chronology of his Life". Juan Cole's Khalil Gibran Page - Writings, Paintings, Hotlinks, New Translations. Professor Juan R.I. Cole. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
  9. ^ Thompson, Juliet (Summer 1978), "Juliet Remembers Gibran as told to Marzieh Gail", World Order, A Baha'i Magazine, 12 (04), pp. 29–31
  10. ^ Seitz, William Chapin (1980). Mark Tobey. Ayer Publishing. p. 44. ISBN 0-405-12893-2.
  11. ^ a b Lacroix-Hopson, Eliane (1987). "`Abdu'l-Bahá in New York: The City of the Covenant" (pdf). About the Baha'is of New York City. NewVistaDesign. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  12. ^ "Sixtieth Anniversary of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Travels to the Western World". Bahá'í News. No. 488. November 1971. p. 7.
  13. ^ "New York Sites Visited by 'Abdu'l·Baha". Bahá'í News. No. 423. June 1966. p. 8.
  14. ^ "In Memoriam; Juliet Thompson". Bahá'í World. 13: 861–864. 1970.
  15. ^ "Current Art News and Gossip; Patronizing Auction Rooms (3rd par.)" (PDF). The Washington Times, Sunday. December 7, 1902. p. 12. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  16. ^ "Our Local Art and Artists; The Growth of Washington as an EstheticCenter - Some Members of "The Colony"". Washington Times. February 3, 1895. p. 11. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "Announcements of Social Events of the Future". Evening Times. December 4, 1895. p. 5. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  17. ^ "Art Exhibitions; The Nation Academy of Design". New York Tribune. January 5, 1901. p. 8. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "How Complexity of Woman's Nature Shows in her face and makes Portrait Painting Hard". Washington Times; The Time Daily Magazine Page (Home Edition). June 13, 1916. p. 8. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  18. ^ Writing: "Short Story Club; Its Members have a pleasant evening at Willard's". Washington Times. May 13, 1894. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    Photography: "Interesting Chat in Washington Camera Circles". Washington Times. February 23, 1902. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  19. ^ "Social and Personal". The Times of Washington. June 20, 1898. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "Social and Personal". The Times of Washington. June 10, 1898. p. 5. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "Social and Personal". The Times of Washington. April 28, 1899. p. 5. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  20. ^ Bolger, Doreen (Editor) (1989). American Pastels in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York. p. 20. ISBN 0-87099-547-2.
  21. ^ "Social Sayings and Doings; Fundraiser". The National Republican. November 18, 1894. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "Social Sayings and Doings". Washington Times. December 1, 1894. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  22. ^ "East Side Boys and Girls Cultivate Art along with Politics". New York Tribune. February 13, 1904. p. 3. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
    "Artists give half to Suffrage". The Sun. July 26, 1915. p. 9. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  23. ^ "Film show in church;Entertainment Society to make Practice General". New York Tribune. June 19, 1914. p. 2. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  24. ^ "Washington asked to give Syrians Aid". Washington Times. June 21, 1916. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  25. ^ Margan, Angela (March 1921). Deuth, Eugene J.; Deuth, Wandeyne, eds. "Today". Reality. Reality Publishing Company. 03 (03): 36. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  26. ^ "Miss Juliette Thompson, full-length portrait, standing, facing front, with her portrait of Mrs. Coolidge". Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  27. ^ Research Department at the Bahá'í World Centre, ed. (1982). Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters. Haifa, Israel: Bahá’í World Centre. ISBN 0-85398-131-0.

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