Scope and Contents
Photographic prints, glass plate negatives and other equipment and supplies related to professional portraiture by Vera Prasilova Scott, mainly dating from 1926-1937 during her time in Houston close to the Rice Institute. Houston and Rice University-related subjects include the Lovett, Baker, Blaffer, Cullinan, Weiss, Hutcheson, Autrey and Sharp families.
Portraits include adults, children, babies, and a very few landscapes. Many remain unidentified at the time of processing this collection, but as they are identified over time, this guide will be updated.
Of particular note is an Address Book in Box 53 featuring names of Prasilova Scott's photographic subjects which may help in identfying some of the prints.
Vera Prasilova Scott was born March 25, 1899 in Kunta Hora, Bohemia, then a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By her high school years, Prasilova showed an intense interest in and a gift for artistic expression. Her initial influence and mentor was the nationally renowned Czech painter Josef Sedivy. Despite this mentorship, hoever, her artistic impulse was first expressed through photography.
Prasilova began her schooling at Charles University in Prague, choosing photography as her profession. At the age of 18, she served as apprentice to Czech photographer Frantisek Drtikol (1883-1961), beginning her portraiture work and presumably learning the techniques of Bromoil and silver halide printing. Under Drtikol she earned a Journeyman’s Certificate in Photography and from there, in 1922, she continued her academic training at the Graphic Arts School in Munich, Germany. She graduated from there with a Master’s degree and a first prize award in photography.
It was in Munich that she met her future husband Dr. Arthur F. Scott, who was doing his postdoctoral research as a Harvard Fellow in Chemistry at the University of Munich. Not long after Mr. Scott returned to the United States, Vera Prasilova followed, in 1924. She first settled in New York where she worked as a stills photographer for Lasky Famous Players, while continuing her studies at Columbia University. Vera Prasilova and Arthur Scott later reunited in Portland, Oregon and were married in 1925. It was that same year that Scott received an appointment to the Rice Institute (now Rice University) and the couple relocated to Houston, Texas in 1926.
In Houston, Prasilova opened and operated a photography studio on San Jacinto St. which soon became well known for her portraits, whose “highlights and shadows, finished in oil or gum print have the effect of a rich charcoal. Her subjects (were) not posed in a “look pleasant” stereotype, but their moods are caught and held and veiled just enough to capture their allurement,” (Civics for Houston, Jan. 1982, pg. 22). Much of Prasilova’s clientele included faculty of the Rice Institute, locals of social and political stature and their families as well as visiting celebrities, including Bertrand Russell and Maurice Ravel. Several of Prasilova’s portraits were included in the Pacific International Salon of Photographic Art, which hung at the Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon and Art Galleries of Oregon at Eugene in the fall of 1930. Her work was also exhibited at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston in 1931 and 1932. She also showed her work in the “27th Convention” in Schenectady, NY, 1932, where her work received an Award of Merit.
In 1937, the Scotts moved back to Portland, Oregon, where Arthur Scott had accepted a professorship in Chemistry at Reed College. By this time, the Scotts had a family (three girls, Nadja S. Lilly of Portland, OR, Dascha S. Tursi of Pueblo, CO, and Kytja K.S. Voeller of Scottsdale, AZ) and Prasilova switched primarily to sculpture as her artistic outlet, which she pursued successfully into the late 1980s.
In 1989, Prasilova’s photographic portraits were included in the exhibition Frantisek Drtikol and His Pupils at the Museum of Czech Literature in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her work is also in the permanent collections of the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon and the Museum of Czech Literature in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Vera Prasilova Scott died on January 31, 1996.
Biographical sketch written by appraiser Jennifer Stoots.