First Floor: Priscilla Rogers Portrait by Madame Maria Bartha
Helen Priscilla (went by Priscilla) and her sister Vonda grew up in Walker, MN, children of Edward Rogers, who was a fairly famous athlete and lawyer who also went to Washington D.C. to fight for Indian rights. Edward was half Native American and half Irish.
Priscilla had what was then called a “hole in the heart” or a faulty valve. Her father took her to a heart specialist who operated on children out East, but at that point Priscilla was too old to be operated on. Priscilla ran off to be married in her teens, but her parents had that marriage annulled, and she attended the Villa following in her older sister Vonda’s footsteps. No records indicate her completing her studies here either as a high school or college student.
She went out to New Mexico and was at Okona and Taos working with art and the Navajo. She married a second time at the St. Francis Mission and died in childbirth in November of 1943, most likely due to complications with her compromised heart function.
In grief, her father commissioned Madame Bartha to paint Priscilla’s portrait in her wedding dress holding a yellow rose, which she loved. She is wearing a turquoise bracelet and earrings, and her niece, Priscilla Herbison (who donated the painting to the Library) still has the bracelet in her possession.
Madame Bartha was an art instructor here at the College from the late 1940s to early 1950s. She was educated in France learning a special three-point perspective, which allows for it to appear as if the eyes of the person in the portrait follow you. Check it out!