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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Soul Brother" or The Haynes Restaurant Portrait

Below is another remembrance of Burt Reinfrank about Beauford. This one concerns a Delaney portrait at Haynes’ Restaurant.

Haynes’ was the longest standing African-American-owned restaurant in Paris. For many years, Leroy Haynes regaled his customers with great Southern cuisine and his larger-than-life persona at 3, rue Clauzel in the 9th arrondissement. After his death in 1986, his widow Maria continued the tradition. Haynes’ Restaurant permanently closed its doors in 2009.

 Haynes' Restaurant
© Discover Paris!

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We heard there was a Delaney painting hanging in Haynes Restaurant. I telephoned to confirm this and was told that the painting was a Delaney self-portrait. I knew that Haynes and Beauford had known one another, so I was curious to see it. I made a dinner reservation for 8 pm on March 9, 2001.

That evening, we found the Delaney portrait hanging on the wall of the dining room above the banquettes. It was well lit from above. Upon seeing the painting, I said to the young man and woman who greeted us and showed us to a table that if this was the restaurant’s Delaney portrait, it was not a self-portrait.

“Man with Cigarette” portrait at Haynes Restaurant
© 2001 Burton Reinfrank

The personnel of the restaurant were aware that the painting had a certain value. They said that some months before, a woman from Atlanta had come by to see the painting. As she was organizing a Delaney exhibition, she asked if it might be loaned or sold. Her request was denied.

While not a Beauford self-portrait, the Haynes painting seemed familiar nonetheless. To investigate further, I looked over photographs that I had taken in Beauford’s studio years before. In a photo from January 1968, I saw the portrait from Haynes restaurant on the wall behind Beauford, who was seated on his bed. I remember the portrait had hung for some weeks on the studio wall, during which time Beauford made a few changes. These are visible in the photograph of the finished painting that I took at Haynes’ Restaurant in 2001.

Beauford and “Man with Cigarette” portrait
© 1968 Burton Reinfrank

Over the years that I visited Beauford in his studio, I saw many portraits hanging on the wall. They were waiting to be worked on further, to be signed off as sold, or given away. I heard recently that the Haynes’ Delaney had “Soul Brother” written on the back of the canvas. As I never saw the back of the painting at Beauford’s studio or at Haynes Restaurant, I cannot comment on this.

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