The Old Print Shop

Leon Fremaux


Napoleon Joseph Fremaux (1821-1898) was a civil engineer by profession. Born and educated in Paris, he became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1855, at which point he shortened his name to Leon. He delighted in sketching scenes of his adopted Louisiana home as a break from heavy surveying responsibilities and continued to draw even while he was a captain of engineers in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Fremaux settled his family in Mobile after the war, hoping to make a living restoring the city’s port, but his homesick wife convinced him to return to Louisiana in 1866. They settled in New Orleans where he struggled as a surveyor and architect, but Fremaux eventually secured an appointment as assistant city engineer in the New Orleans city surveyor’s office in 1869. He devoted more time to painting during the 1870s, focusing on the architecture and street characters of his adopted city. Joseph Garcia, his son-in-law and a prosperous local printer, published New Orleans Characters, a portfolio of Fremaux’s local street life sketches, in 1876.