Nancy Brown Negley, 1927 – 2022

by Jessica Fuentes August 3, 2022
A photograph of Nancy Brown Negley. She looks straight into the camera with a wide smile.

Nancy Brown Negley

Nancy Brown Negley, a Houston artist and philanthropist who founded the Dora Maar House residency program in Ménerbes, France, died on July 16, 2022.

Mrs. Negley, the eldest daughter of George R. and Alice Pratt Brown, was born in Houston in 1927. In 1919, her father, a prominent Houston entrepreneur, along with his brother, established Brown & Root Inc., which would become one of the largest construction companies in the world. In 1951, the brothers and their wives founded The Brown Foundation in Houston to provide support for the arts and education in the city. Later in life, Mrs. Negley would serve as Board Chair for the Brown Foundation from 1984-88, following the death of her mother, and again from 2005-2009.

In 1948, Mrs. Negley earned an Associate’s Degree from Pine Manor College in Newton, Massachusetts. The following year, she married Alfred W. Negley, a prominent rancher and businessman. The couple then moved to West Texas, where they raised their three children. 

A black and white photo of artist Carlos Merida who watches as Nancy Brown Negley inspects his recently installed mosaic mural.

Artist Carlos Merida (middle) watches as Nancy Brown Negley inspects his recently installed mosaic mural. San Antonio Express-News Photograph Collection, MS 360, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Negley was involved with cultural organizations in Texas and beyond. She was a founding trustee of the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, which was established in 1965. In 1975, she was elected President of the San Antonio Conservation Society. In 1977, she was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve a two-year term as a member of the National Museum Services Board, which advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services. She also served on numerous museum boards, including those at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the San Antonio Museum of Art; the Dia Art Foundation; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

A photograph of The Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France. The house sits atop a hill and the sun shines on the building.

The Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France.

After spending time at the American Academy in Rome and in Southern France, where she studied at the Lacoste School of the Arts, Mrs. Negley bought a home in Ménerbes. The home overlooked a residence that Pablo Picasso had purchased for artist Dora Maar in 1944. After Ms. Maar died in 1997, Mrs. Negley purchased and renovated the home to create a residency program. Since 2007, The Brown Foundation Fellows Program at the Dora Maar House has offered one- to two-month residencies for mid-career arts and humanities professionals. Since opening, the program has hosted over 300 fellows from over 25 countries. In 2011, Mrs. Negley was recognized by the French Government with the Legion of Honor, Chevalier, for her contributions to the South of France and support of artists.

Ann Ziker, Executive Director of the Brown Foundation told Glasstire, “Nancy’s commitment to artists, arts education, and art appreciation helped to cement the arts as a central focus of the Foundation. Artists and institutions from around the world saw the benefit of Nancy’s support as she worked to build, sustain, and enhance arts institutions and programs, particularly in the communities she knew and loved. We endeavor to honor Nancy’s legacy by continuing our support of the arts in Houston, San Antonio, New York, France, and beyond.”

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Nancy B. Negley Artists Residency Program, 2121 Sage Road, Houston, TX 77056, or to the charity of one’s choice.

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