Paul Jean Clays (27 November 1819 – 10 February 1900), Belgian artist, was born at Bruges, and died at Brussels.
In 1851 he made his debut at the Paris Salon and, while he tried to stay in the mainstream, his art was heralded by those who were looking for a change to more realism.
In 1852 he married Marie-Isaure (d. 1860), the daughter of the director of the Brussels Observatory, and moved to Antwerp where he lived from 1852 to 1856; it was during this period that his fortunes began to improve.
In 1856 he and his family moved to Brussels where he became a prolific artist, specializing in scenes along the Scheldt. He exhibited a number of works at the Exposition Universelelle of 1867 and the critic Burger-Thoré described him as one of the greatest marine painters of the time.
In 1868 he became a member of the Société Libre des Beaux-Arts, a society founded on 1 March 1868 to help promote the works of artists who were interested in their individual interpretations of nature. He was a frequent exhibitor at the many exhibition halls in Europe and exhibited many pieces at the Paris Salon. [source]