Jan August Hendrik Leys Analysis

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Jan August Hendrik Leys, more commonly known as Hendrik Leys, was a Belgian artist born in Antwerp, Belgium in February of 1815. Leys worked in his father’s printing business from a young age and showed a passion for drawing and arts. At a very young age he studied under his neighbor who painted furniture, and this later led him to study at the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts. Leys always showed a particular interest in depicting historical subjects in his paintings. During his early career he worked closely with Belgian Romantic painter Gustaf Wappers, and Leys was later influenced by French artist Paul Delaroche who also worked mostly in Romanticism. Due to these influences, Leys exhibited many aspects of Romanticism in his earlier works of…show more content…
There is a symmetry exhibited in the piece, with Catherine and Henry balancing each other out on opposite sides of the painting and the bystanders in the background evenly bridging the gap between these two. There are also asymmetrical elements to the work, most visible in the two figures behind Catherine, presumably her mother and father, as well as the background of the painting which is only visible in the upper left corner of the work.
Leys’ use of line in this piece also gives the piece visual interest, with the strong vertical lines of the columns and architecture in the background contrasting with the checkered pattern on the floor and the strong horizontal line of the bench behind Catherine. There are many small details included in this piece and the artist’s brushstrokes are almost entirely unnoticeable. This inclusion of many details and pops of bright color add a sense of liveliness to the piece even in the seeming absence of action or excitement.
Overall, I think Leys was very successful in his endeavor to make a historic painting that captures the truthfulness of the situation. His piece, King Henry V Courting Princess Catherine of Valois, was a clear example of his departure away from Romanticism and into the realm of Realism. He truly pioneered this switch to Realistic art in Belgium and served as an inspiration for many later painters who admired his drive and
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