Born on to March 1810 in Tournai where he first studied under P.-A. Hennequin. In 1832 he became the pupil of M. van Bree in Antwerp, where he exhibited Christ healing the Blind Man (Tournai Cathedral) in 1833. From 1834 to 1841 he worked in Paris where he was friendly with Scheffer and Delaroche. He exhibited at the Salon 1835-8 and six times between 1841 and 1853; Louis-Philippe commissioned nine paintings from him for Versailles 1834-42.
His celebrated Abdication of Charles V (Tournai), shown at the 1841 Salon, was subsequently toured in Belgium and Germany. He returned to Belgium and settled in Brussels in 1841 with a considerable reputation as a history painter, though he also painted portraits. He was made chevalier of the order of Leopold and of the Legion of Honour in 1841 and, having declined a barony in 1862, was made president of the Belgian Royal Academy in 1880.
In 1872 he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.
He died in Brussels on 20 November 1887.