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 McFaddin McCan. Back in his native Texas, Nave continued to paint the landscapes 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. Nave showed his work at the Texas Fine Arts Association in 1928 and 1929, the last known exhibitions before his death. On a trip to visit his brother, Tye, in Harlingen, in 1931, Nave passed away from a heart attack, cutting short his promise of further influence and achievement within his own home state, and denying the Texas art community of one of its most accomplished art denizens.
The paintings of Texas artist Royston Nave rest today in quiet obscurity, remarkably under-known and under-appreciated for works so praised and showered with attention during the artist's lifetime. In those days, the works of Royston Nave hung in the highest places, and Nave ranked among the state's foremost professional artists. In successful residencies in Fort Worth, New York and later, in Victoria, Nave achieved acclaim and prominence, both as an accomplished portraitist and an impressionist landscape painter. 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.
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