Born Feb. 18, 1815, in Antwerp; died there Aug. 26, 1869. Belgian painter.
Leys studied at the Academy of Arts in Antwerp. He traveled in France (1835–39), Holland (1839), and Germany (1852–53). One of the founders of 19th-century romantic historical and genre painting, he depicted scenes of national daily life of the 15th to 17th centuries. Leys’ paintings are noted for their careful manner of execution, poetic quality, and subtle psychological imagery. They are often devoted to the theme of man’s intellectual freedom. Leys creatively used motifs and styles from Dutch and German Renaissance art (Restoration of Catholicism in Antwerp, 1845, Museum of Modern Art, Brussels; The Workshop of Frans Floris, 1866, Museum of Modern Art, Brussels; the murals in the Antwerp Town Hall, from 1863).