Baron Jan August Hendrik Leys, commonly known as Hendrik Leys, was a Belgian painter born on February 18, 1815, in Antwerp, Belgium, and passed away on August 26, 1869, in the same city. He is considered one of the most important historical painters of 19th-century Belgium and played a significant role in the Belgian Romantic movement.

Leys initially studied architecture but soon turned to painting under the influence of his mentor, the painter Mathieu Ignace Van Brée. He drew inspiration from the works of Flemish Renaissance painters such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Hans Memling, as well as from the Dutch Golden Age painters.

Leys' paintings were characterized by their historical and genre subjects, often depicting scenes from medieval and Renaissance history. He aimed to revive and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Belgium, which included both Flemish and Burgundian traditions. His meticulous attention to historical detail and the use of vivid colors made his works highly regarded and sought after.

Some of Leys' notable paintings include "The Reconciliation of the Duke of Alba and William the Silent" (1841), "The Mass of Berthal de Haze" (1849), and "The Pilgrimage to the Foot Washing in the Notre-Dame de Hal" (1853). These works reflect his fascination with historical events and the daily life of ordinary people.

Leys' contributions to Belgian art were highly regarded during his lifetime, and he received numerous honors and awards for his work. He was made a baron by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1862, acknowledging his significant artistic achievements.

Today, Leys' works can be found in various museums and collections, including the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. His legacy as one of the leading figures in Belgian Romantic painting continues to be appreciated and celebrated by art enthusiasts and historians.