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Haynes, Denys Eyre Lankester

    Image Credit: Monuments Men and Women

    Full Name: Haynes, Denys Eyre Lankester

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1913

    Date Died: 1994

    Place Born: Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, UK

    Place Died: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): ancient, Ancient Greek (culture or style), Antique, the, antiquities (object genre), Classical, and Roman (ancient Italian culture or period)

    Career(s): curators


    Keeper of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, 1956-1976. Haynes’ father was Hugh Lankester Haynes (1878-1956), an Episcopal minister and his mother, Emmeline Marianne Chaldecott (1885-1968). After attending Marlborough College between 1926 and 1932 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, concentrating in classical archaeology and graduating in 1936. He studied Roman provincial archaeology at Bonn before admission to the British School at Rome between 1936 and 1937. The result of this study was his first publication, Porta Argentariorum, 1939, produced with P. E. D. Hirst. In 1937 Haynes joined the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in the department of metalwork. When the scandal in the British Museum’s over-cleaning of portions of the Elgin marbles erupted, Bernard Ashmole was appointed head of the Greek and Roman Antiquities Department. Haynes become one of Ashmole’s pre-war hires in 1939 to bring the department back to publish credibility. At the declaration of World War II, Haynes was one of the staff enjoined to pack and sent the treasures in his department to safe hiding. In 1941 he enlisted in the Royal Artillery, later moving to military intelligence. There he served in the map division of the Italian campaign of General Harold Alexander (1891-1969). He was appointed antiquities officer in Libya in 1945. He used this time and experience to write the Historical and Archaeological Guide to Ancient Tripolitania published in 1946. Haynes returned to the British Museum in 1946 reinstalling the objects he had helped to remove. He married the archaeologist Sybille Edith Overhoff (b. 1926) in 1951. In 1953 Haynes became a member of the Deutsche Archäologische Institut (German Archaeological Institute or “DAI”). The following year he advanced to deputy keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities at the Museum. He succeeded Ashmole as Keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities in 1956. Haynes focused his writing on the Museum’s most important Greek objects, the Elgin marbles and the accompanying sculptures of the Parthenon. His Parthenon Frieze appeared in 1958. In 1962 Haynes oversaw the opening of the new Duveen gallery containing the Elgin marbles. Haynes revised the brief guide to the marbles originally written by A. H. Smith and amended by Ashmole, issuing it as A Historical Guide to the Sculptures of the Parthenon to accompany this opening In 1964 he published the most scholarly of his BM writings, The Portland Vase. Haynes oversaw the renovation of the ground floor of the Museum, next to the Duveen gallery, into fourteen new galleries devoted to the range of Greek and Roman acquisitions. It opened in 1969 accompanied by the publication of Fifty Masterpieces of Classical Art in the British Museum the following year. He taught as Geddes-Harrower professor of Greek art and archaeology at the University of Aberdeen for the 1972-1973 year. He published his book The Arundel Marbles, under the auspices of the Ashmolean Museum in 1975. He retired from the Museum in 1976, moving to Oxfordshire. There he was a visitor (member of the advisory board) to the Ashmolean Museum between 1979 and 1987. In 1981 his University of Aberdeen lectures were published as Greek Art and the Idea of Freedom. Throughout his career his major research interest was in ancient bronzes. In 1994 he succumbed to heart disease. His major work on The Technique of Greek Bronze Statuary, appeared posthumously in 1992. The annual Haynes lectures at the British Museum were founded in 1996 in his memory.

    Selected Bibliography

    The Parthenon Frieze. London: Batchworth Press, 1959; “The Portland Vase: A Reply.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 115 (1995): 146-152; Fifty Masterpieces of Classical Art in the British Museum. London: British Museum, 1970; The Portland Vase. London: British Museum, 1964; The Technique of Greek Bronze Statuary. Mainz am Rhein: P. von Zabern, 1992.


    “D. E. L. Haynes.” The Times (London) October 11, 1994.


    "Haynes, Denys Eyre Lankester." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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