Born to extremely humble beginnings, Tony Haynes Snr had little choice but to soon become the provider and carer for his then family of six brothers, two sisters and mother.
There was very little time for the privilege of attending school; as a result he is mostly self-educated: Tenacious is his middle name! So, in hope of earning much needed funds, the young boy started his working life by performing a wide array of imaginative duties - for example, looking after the prams of strangers whilst parents shopped at Woolworths.
For Tony Snr, art opened a window into another world; he would sit for hours at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in awe of the craftsmanship displayed. February Fill Dyke by Benjamin Williams Leader (British 1831-1923) was the very first painting to grab, excite and captivate him; amazed by Leader's depiction of figures in a landscape going about their business after much rainfall, struck by the realism of water as it pooled into passing cartwheel tracks and uplifted by the suggestion of sunlight breaking through the clouds all denoted to him that life goes on, to weather storms and wait, for the sun will come out again. Art, the educator, had taught him its first important lesson.
The Benjamin Williams Leader was soon followed by two conversation pieces by Sir John Gilbert (British 1817-1897) with detail so vividly painted it was almost as if he, Tony Snr - the viewer, was privy to another place and time, very nearly able to hear, follow and understand the figures in the scene; he had been transported by art.
The next work to capture the young Tony Snr was a Crucifixion scene by Carlo Dolci (Florentine 1616-1686), which immediately kindled a special interest in Old Masters. The scene depicts hundreds of figures looking at Christ, each with their back to us - the viewer, all except one who looks directly at us. This intrigued the young Tony Snr and posed art's first riddle: Why is he looking at me and not at Christ? It was only later when he spotted a self portrait by Rembrandt (Dutch 1606-1669) along with the artist's comment - I am looking at someone who is looking at me whilst I look at them - that Tony Snr found his answer: the figure looking at him in Dolci's Crucifixion scene was the artist himself, perhaps asking, “What have we done?”
Fortunate to meet his equally determined future wife and life partner, Vivien, when he was just 17, Tony Snr has, with Vivien's hard work and unflinching support, journeyed his way through a diverse succession of employment (including selling hot dogs and window cleaning) from a lowly position through to that of a firmly established and widely respected international art expert and dealer, as well as both founding and heading the successful company known today as Haynes Fine Art. A self made man in all aspects - and yes, we are all very proud of him and miss him very dearly, God bless.
Indeed it was, and continues to be, art's sense of complexity that appealed to and drove Tony Snr, its ability to change as it is looked at, for the viewer to feel seen by and interact with it, as Rembrandt pointed out - it displays and yet looks back at you, commenting on what it is like to be human. Art the mirror, the entertainer, the commentator, the educator challenges and thrilled Tony Snr up to and including his final days.
Tony Snr and Vivien's ultimate pride and joy is, and will always be, their children. Sadly only two of four survive. The youngest, Alison, followed her path into performing Arts (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) singing at The Royal Albert Hall and on national radio before her passion for world music took her to South Africa as music director for a touring theatre company; consequent ill health has, for the time being, paused what promises to be a notable career. Nurtured amongst a wealth of beautiful and important art works, it came as no surprise when eldest son, Tony Jnr, decided to follow in his father's footsteps. From an early age the Haynes children were encouraged to interact with art, including regular trips to public art galleries and museums, alongside frequent invitations to share in their father's often exhaustive research procedure - the promise of a reward was always lucrative! Over the years Tony Snr had patiently shared his encyclopaedic knowledge of art and well thumbed comprehensive collection of art books and catalogues, indeed with his guidance and motivation, the next Haynes generation had an exceptional start into the art world.
In 1988, Tony Jnr opened the first retail outlet for Haynes Fine Art and promptly announced his arrival into the fine art community. Within a short space of time his gallery stock changed from Old Masters (supplied by Tony Snr) to much later works in order to meet requirements of collectors. Again a family unit Tony and his wife Julie ran the gallery until the business would warrant a larger team. Clients still comment today that they were often greeted by Tony's and Julie's first child Emma who at the age of two would try to sell them a painting, it's clearly in the blood! This became a running theme with all four of their children each displaying their own entrepreneurial fair.
Even after expanding the first gallery customer demands ushered Haynes Fine Art to a much larger gallery and the family home of Tony Jnr, Picton House (see previous page), became the natural choice for the new retail home of Haynes Fine Art. Acknowledged as being Britain's largest provincial fine art dealer, Haynes Fine Art owns up to 2,500 paintings at any time - and with four grand children waiting in the wings (& now a beautiful great granddaughter) and a magnificent Haynes team - this number is likely to grow!
Haynes Fine Art has handled many important paintings which are now housed in museums worldwide, including;
- The National Gallery, London
- J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
- The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Philadelphia Art Gallery
- The Louvre, Paris
- The Overbeck-Gesellschaft Museum, Germany
- National Gallery of Art, Washington
- Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena,California
- Leicester Art Gallery, England
- amongst numerous others.