Jean Auguste Henri Leys, a Belgian painter, born in Antwerp, Feb. 18, 1815, died there, Aug. 26, 1869. When 15 years old he entered the studio of his brother-in-law Ferdinand de Braekeleer. In 1833 his " Combat of a Grenadier and a Cossack" was exhibited in Antwerp, and attracted much attention. After travelling in France and Holland he returned to Antwerp, whence his fame spread over Europe. Among his most celebrated paintings previous to 1855 are "The Spanish Fury in 1576," "The White Hoods," "Interior of a Painter's Studio," "A Wedding in the 17th Century," "Faust and Wagner," "Albert Durer at Antwerp," and "Faust and Margaret." His paintings, excellent in other respects, were especially remarkable for the splendor of their coloring. In 1845 he was made a member of the royal Belgian academy, and in 1849 of the board of directors of the academy of fine arts in Antwerp. To the Paris exhibition of 1855 he sent "The New Year in Flanders" and other pictures, for which one of the great gold medals was awarded him. On his return from Paris his fellow citizens received him with public demonstrations, and presented him with a magnificent golden crown. From this time he devoted himself entirely to historical painting, his subjects being principally scenes from mediaeval, and especially from Flemish history.
His "Mary of Burgundy giving Alms to the Poor" was sold by auction in London in 1861 for 1,000 guineas. In 1865 he was made a baron. At the time of his death he had nearly finished the frescoes in the great hall of the town house of Antwerp, representing scenes from Flemish history, and which may perhaps be regarded as the highest effort of his genius.