Henry Leys first paintings were historical scenes similar to those by Gustaaf Wappers. However, this dramatic realism did not really appeal to him. Following a trip through Germany he was inspired by the styles of Dürer, Holbein and Cranach. From then on his subjects were based on the atmosphere of sixteenth-century middle-class society and on literature. Walk Outside the Walls illustrates a scene from Goethes Faust. However, the scene is not set in Nurenberg but on the ramparts of Antwerp. Despite the static composition we can feel the psychological tension in the scene depicted here. This painting helped to establish Leys international reputation. The public admired the way he brought the past to life through the precise depiction of architecture and costumes, and the realistic and romantic elements in his portrayal of reality.