Leon Engelsberg was one of four children born in Warsaw to a moderately religious bourgeois family. In 1943 he enlisted in the Polish Army infantry division sponsored by the Soviet Army. Most of his family was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto. After the war, Engelsberg enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1957, he immigrated to Israel and settled in Jerusalem in a deserted Arab house in the Abu Tor neighborhood. He continued to paint there until his final days.
Engelsberg's landscape, constituting the greater part of his oeuvre, represents the public aspect of the artist's relations with the surrounding world. His style, developed in his early 1960's paintings, was based on the translation of the landscape into an independent, abstract painterly language.
Engelsberg's personal history complements the acceptance of Israeli art, flowing like a suppressed, underground trickle beside the main current.
Captivated by the Jerusalem landscape, Engelsberg can be counted among a large group of Israeli landscape painters whose work constitute a deep emotional and aesthetic response to the local vistas.
His romantic attitude, aspiring to discover in the expanse of earth and sky the metaphysical sublime and the promise of personal redemption and regeneration, seems to recall the conceptions of the pioneer artists of the pre-state era. Yet his stylistic approach tends toward abstraction and the translation of the various features of the landscape into autonomous painterly values, associating him with the idiom of the landscape painters of the 1950's and 1960's. Either way, Engelsberg remains a breed apart, unaffiliated with any group, the sense of ambivalence and melancholy permeating his entire oeuvre.