Florent Joseph Marie Willems was born at Liège. He had no regular tuition in painting, but learnt by copying and restoring old pictures at Mechelen, where he lived from 1832. He made his debut at the Brussels Salon in 1842 with A Music Party and an Interior of a 17th-century Guard-room in the style of Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu. Soon afterwards he settled in Paris, where his pictures enjoyed considerable popularity under the Second French Empire. Among his most famous works may be mentioned The Wedding Dress (Brussels Gallery), La Fete des grands-parents (Brussels Gallery), Le Baise-main (Mme. Cardon's collection, Brussels), Farewell (Willems coll., Brussels), The Arches of the Peace (Delahaye coll., Antwerp) and The Widow (engraved by Desvachez). He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine. He is well known in the United States, good examples of his works being in the Metropolitan Museum (New York), the Art Institute of Chicago, and other public and private collections. His favourite subjects are taken from the seventeenth century.