“One senses [Frémaux’s] love of the city, his lack of pretension, and his joy in the simplicity of life that made him, in spite of the dark and violent episodes of Louisiana history through which he lived and in which he played a significant role, a man who possessed not only many of the prejudices of his age but also humor and compassion.”
—from the editor’s note on the sketches
The spirit of a vanished society springs to life in this elegant collection of hundred-year-old water-color sketches. Léon Frémaux’s New Orleans Characters captures the striking images of nineteenth-century Louisiana: merry roustabouts dancing on the docks in New Orleans, Choctaw Indian women selling their surplus produce, a cotton classer grading the planters’ harvests.
Prior to the Civil War, Léon Frémaux drew sketches during his surveying expeditions in southern Louisiana, often on the backs of the maps he was preparing for the land office. Most of his pre-war drawings and watercolors were either destroyed in the war or lost when the Frémaux family had to flee their home; the sketches that survived were saved by Léon’s wife, Caroline. During the war, Léon’s daughter, Céline, carefully preserved the drawings her father sent home. In his wartime sketches, Frémaux focused less on battle itself than on its effects on the people around him, particularly the other Louisiana soldiers with whom he came into contact. In later years, Frémaux concentrated on depicting images of New Orleans.
Most of the artwork included in this volume originally appeared in the extremely limited edition of New Orleans Characters, published in 1876. Several of the sketches have never been published before now. All are accompanied by original captions in French and English, many written by Frémaux himself. This volume makes available to the public a colorful collection of art, history, and folklore through the sketches and captions of Léon Frémaux. Each of the eighteen full-color prints is suitable for framing.