Born in St. Nicolas-Waan in 1882, Leo Engels studied art at the prestigious Antwerp Academy. A stellar student, he won the Van Lerius Prize in 1907 followed in 1908 with his winning of the de Keyser Prize for art. Upon graduating, he commenced his career as a painter in oils adopting a post-Impressionist technique. He specialized in still-lifes, figurative pieces, interiors, landscapes and seascapes. Many of his seascape pieces depicted views of the Belgian coastline and were handled with sensitivity to light and shade.
A major retrospective on the life and paintings of Leo Engels was held in St. Nicolas-Waan in 1970.