The Royston Nave Memorial was built in 1932 by Emily McCan Nave, widow of Royston Nave, a noted regional artist who died in 1931. Originally designed as a memorial to Nave and a place to exhibit his paintings, this classical Greek temple was designed by San Antonio architects Atlee B. Ayers and his son, Robert. It served as a library for many years, with Nave’s paintings hanging above the bookcases. A new library was completed in 1975, and Mrs. Nave’s descendants donated the structure to the City of Victoria, who, in turn, leased it to the Victoria Regional Museum Association (VRMA). The following year, the Nave Museum officially opened its doors to the public. The structure is now owned by Victoria Regional Museum Association. NR-1986.
About Royston Nave
Royston Nave was an artist who enjoyed a prolific and successful painting career in both Texas and New York. He traveled widely, painting and sketching as he went. His primary interests were people and the outdoors, particularly the landscape of Texas.
Nave was born in LaGrange, Texas in 1886. His first art instruction came from his mother, Lou Scott Royston, a well-known Texas painter, who encouraged her son’s talent. He later studied under such diverse mentors as Pompeo Coppini, Texas culptro (“Confederate Soldier,”DeLeon Plaza, Victoria), J. Ferdinand McCan of Victoria, Robert Henri, Walt Kuhn, Lawton Parker and I. R. Wilson.
It was in New York that Nave became renowned for his portrait work, of which he had many one-man exhibitions. He left New York to serve in the U.S. Army in World War I, after which he traveled the western United States, painting landscapes and portraits. He returned to New York to have several more one-man shows, including two at Milch Gallery in 1919 and 1920. After returning to Victoria to study with his mentor J. Ferdinand McCan, Nave met and married Emma McFaddinMcCan. Back in his native Texas, Nave continued to paint the landscape he was so fond of, as well as commissioned portraits. One of his most well-known, a portrait of Rebecca Fisher, the “Mother of Texas,” is in the extensive collection of the State Capitol in Austin. His extensive career included exhibitions not only in New York, but also the National Academy, the Pennsylvania Academy, and the Carnegie International Exhibition of 1919 in Pittsburgh, as well as numerous regional and national competitions.
In 1931 Royston Nave suffered a fatal heart attack while visiting his brother in Harlingen. The Royston Nave Memorial, now the Nave Museum, was commissioned by his widow, Emma McFaddinMcCan Nave. The building, a majestic Greek revival temple designed by San Antonio architect Atlee Ayers, opened in 1932 to house Nave’s paintings and contain the library of the Bronte Study Club. When the Victoria Library on Main Street was built in 1976, Mrs. Nave’s heirs, the McCan family, deeded the building to the city to be used as a fine arts museum for the region. The city in turn rented the building to the newly created Victoria Regional Museum Association, formerly the McNamara-O’Connor Historical and Fine Arts Museum, to operate as a visual arts center. Since that time the Nave Museum has continued to serve the Victoria region as the first fine arts museum in the area, with a wide range of changing fine art exhibitions and educational programs. In December 2003 the city deeded over the property to the Victoria Regional Museum Association.