Rohault de Fleury collection
  • Centre canadien d'architecture (compiler)
  • Charles Rohault de Fleury (architect)
  • Georges Rohault de Fleury (architect)
  • Hubert Rohault de Fleury (architect)

Rohault de Fleury collection



Level of archival description:
Collection 1
Extent and medium:
  • 30 albums
    3 books
    17 drawings
    6 manuscripts
    16 portfolios
    15 prints
Scope and content:
The work of the Rohault de Fleury family - Hubert, his son, Charles and his grandson, Georges - in the CCA collection is representative of many aspects of contemporary French architecture and architectural practices. The content of the albums is extremely varied encompassing both private and government commissions and including domestic work, institutional buildings, commercial buildings, urban planning, and student work from both the École des beaux-arts and the École polytechnique, and archaeological studies. Stylistically, the projects incorporate the two dominant contemporary directions in French architecture - functionalism as advocated by Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand and the classicism of the École des beaux-arts. Material in this collection was produced between 1717 and 1884.

An important aspect of the collection are the five albums devoted to the architectural education of Hubert (DR1974:0002:012:001-049, DR1974:0002:013:001-008), Charles (DR1974:0002:001:001-105, DR1974:0002:021:001-033), and, peripherally, Georges (DR1974:0002:026:001-038). These albums offer a rare opportunity to explore the similarities and differences in design pedagogy at the École polytechnique and École des beaux-arts, and to assess their respective influences and confluences on two students who studied at both institutions during their formative periods.

The collection is arranged into three series by architect: Hubert Rohault de Fleury, Charles Rohault de Fleury; and Georges Rohault de Fleury; and then subequently into files based on project type, where applicable. It consists of 30 albums, 16 portfolios, 6 manuscripts, 19 individual drawings, 15 individual prints, and 3 books. The design drawings in the albums are varied in purpose and medium: from preliminary sketches and design development drawings to presentation and contract drawings, and from graphite sketches to highly finished wash and watercolour renderings. The albums also contain many transfer lithographs - a rapid reproduction method used in the nineteenth century, and engravings, etchings and lithographs of the Rohault de Fleurys' own work and the work of other architects. The drawings and prints are complemented by many textual documents: letters, reports, cost estimates, specifications, competition programmes, building programmes, bidding documents, contracts, work logs and notes.
Reference number:


The classification scheme of the collection was arranged by the cataloguers at the time of documentation of the individual objects in 1993-1994, and adapted in 2008 to conform to the Canadian Council of Archives' Rules for Archival Description.
Biographical notes:
Paris, France, 1777 - Paris, France, 1846

Hubert Rohault de Fleury was a student of Jean Nicolas Louis Durand. He may have studied privately in Durand's house, at the École Polytechnique, where Durand was appointed professor in 1795, or a combination of both. Hubert subsequently entered the École spéciale de peinture, sculpture et architecture in 1798 (1), where he studied under David Le Roy. He was awarded the "deuxième Grand Prix" in 1800 for the design of an École nationale des beaux-arts and the Grand Prix in 1802 for a public fair with an exhibition hall for products of industry on the banks of a large river. He also won three first class medals.

Hubert was a pensionnaire at the Académie de France in Rome from 1802[?] to 1806. Upon his return from Rome, he apparently entered the 1806-1807 competition for the conversion of the Eglise de la Madeleine into a Temple de la Glorie. Some sources state that he won an unspecified prize in this competition (2).

In the same year, he was appointed inspecteur des travaux de l'Arc de triomphe - the first of many official government appointments. His other official appointments included commissaire-voyer de la petite voire from 1812, architecte de la préfecture de la police from 1813, architecte-commissaire de la petite voire ca. 1833, and from 1840, inspecteur général de la petite voire, all for the Préfecture de la police. He was also responsible for the gendarmerie and sapeurs-pompiers barracks, which were under the Préfecture de la Police authority. For the Conseil général des Hospices, he was the architecte des hospices from 1820 to 1834[?] (3). In this capacity, he was also in charge of the halles and marchés under the jurisdiction of the Conseil général des hospices. His son, Charles "inherited" this position in 1833[?].

Hubert was nominated a membre honoraire of the Conseil des bâtiments civils in 1819. He was appointed inspecteur général des édifices civils, dans les déptartments from 1824, inspecteur général de la première division des édifices civils de Paris in 1830 and served as the vice-president of the Conseil des bâtiments civils from 1838 to 1846 (4).

The details of further appointments are unclear. Delaire states that he was the architecte de la ville de Paris (5). A letter dated March 1820 in the CCA collection (DR1974:0002:011:037) indicates that he was the architecte de la villa du Ministere de l'Interieur; he also undertook a project for the redesign of Place Louis XV for the Ministere de l'Interieur in 1821. Based on drawings in album, DR1974:0002:008:001-077, he is also known to have been the architecte de l'École de médecine in ca. 1824.

These appointments lead to many executed and unexecuted projects relating to the infrastructure and institutions of Paris and the surrounding area; many of which are documented in the CCA collection (see Series 3, File 1, Public and Urban Architecture). Hubert was also involved in restoration work, primarily the Thermes de Julien, Paris from 1819 to 1823 with Etienne Hippolyte Godde and Chappelle des Orphelins in 1825.

In addition to his public architecture, Hubert designed country houses and estates, garden structures, urban housing - both apartment houses and hôtel particuliers, interiors and furniture. All of which are represented in the albums of the CCA collection.

In 1828, Hubert was appointed a chevalier de la Légion d'honneur and named as an officier de la Légion d'Honneur after his death in 1846 (6).

(1) Edmond Augustin Delaire, 'Les architectes: élèves de l'École des beaux-arts' (Paris; Libraire de la construction moderne, 1907), s.v. "Rohault de Fleury, Hubert". Some sources incorrectly state 1800.
(2) Delaire, 'Les architectes', s.v. "Rohault de Fleury, Hubert".
(3) Christine Amouroux, 'L'architecte Hubert Rohault de Fleury et ses travaux pour le conseil général des hospices, 1820-1834' (Maîtrise d'histoire; Paris: Université Paris-IV Sorbonne, 1991-1993), 8-10.
(4) Except where noted dates of appointments are based on Ch. Bauchal, 'Nouveau Dictionnaire et Critiques des Architectes Français' (Paris: André, Daly Fils et Cie, 1887), s.v. "Rohault de Fleury (Hubert)". Primary source research is nessecary to confirm this information.
(5) Delaire, 'Les architectes', s.v. "Rohault de Fleury, Hubert".
(6)Based on Bauchal, 'Nouveau Dictionnaire', s.v. "Rohault de Fleury (Hubert)"

Paris, France, 22 September 1801 - Paris, France, 10 August 1875

Following in the footsteps of his father Hubert, Charles Rohault de Fleury attended both the École Polytechnique (1820-1821), where he studied with Jean Nicolas Louis Durand, and the École des Beaux-Arts (1823-1825), where he was taught by his father and Louis Hippolyte Lebas. He progressed rapidly and was promoted to first class within the unusually short time of a year.

The one year delay between Charles' withdrawal from the École Polytechnique in 1821 and his enrolment in the architectural section of the École des Beaux-Arts in 1823 can be explained if, as some contemporary sources have noted, he began his studies in sculpture rather than architecture (see Larousse XIXe, s.v. "Rohault de Fleury, Charles").

His earliest project, the Passage de Saumon (1825-1830), was constructed in collaboration with his father. Charles then embarked on his own professional career, which combined a highly successful and lucrative private practice along with his position as an established government architect. His first public appointments were as architect of the Gendarmerie Barracks (1825) and Hospices (1833). Both positions were 'inherited' from his father, apparently a common practice within the government service.

His first major government position was as architect of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (1833-1862), where he constructed the "serres chaudes" and Galerie de mineralogie et geologie (1833-1837). The "serres chaudes" are noted for their pioneering use of iron and glass and are indicative of Charles' interest in innovative construction techniques.

The next major government appointment was as official architect of the Paris Opera (1846-1860), which he took over from François Debret in 1846. He made various alterations and additions in 1847 and 1850-1855 to the existing Salle Le Pelletier (home to the Paris Opera), as well as numerous proposals to build a new opera house for the company, most of which date from 1846-1847 and 1857-1860.

It appeared as if Charles would be nominated as the official architect of the new opera, however, an open competition was announced in late 1860 in which Charles Garnier emerged as the victor. Nevertheless, the arrangement of the Place de l'Opera is to a great extent the work of Charles, including the initial plan and many of the designs for the surrounding buildings. (MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects, Rohault de Fleury Family.)

Charles' career as a private architect seems to have flourished in the 1850's and 1860's in Paris. He received numerous commissions from wealthy aristocrats, 'societe immobilieres', and other bourgeois entrepreneurs. He built for them respectively: hotels particuliers (primarily Hotel Soltykoff (1854-1858) and Hotel Sauvage (1862)), hotel/commercial buildings (such as the Hotel de Louvre (1855-1856) and Grand Hotel (1861-1862)), as well as entertainment facilities and office structures (Hippodrome National ( 1844-1845) and Chambres des Notaires (1855)). Many of these were built in collaboration with other architects such as Alfred Armand, Auguste Joseph Pellechet, and Jacques Ignaces Hittorf. Charles' collaboration with Hittorf on the design and construction of the twelve hotels surrounding the l'Arc de Triomphe is indicative of his prominent role in the Haussmannization of Paris during the Second Empire. He also designed country houses outside of Paris for wealthy clients.

Charles devoted most of his later years (1865[?] to 1875) to writing multi-volume archaeological and iconographical studies of Christian art and architecture. He was elected Vice President of the newly created Société centrale des architectes in 1840 (the present day Academie d'architecture), and his contributions to French culture were acknowledged when he was named Chevalier in 1846 and then officer of the Legion of Honour in 1861.

Paris, France, 23 November 1835 - 1905

Georges Rohault de Fleury, the son of Charles and grandson of Hubert, began his studies at the École Des Beaux-Arts in November 1855 where his father taught him. He graduated to first class in 1858, but the termination date of his studies remains unknown. Georges devoted most of his time and energies to the historical and archaeological study of medieval architecture, publishing numerous books, and exhibiting his drawings at the Parisian salons in 1863, 1864, 1867, and 1870).

He is a significant figure in the historiography of Tuscan medieval architecture, and his archaeological work and dating in this field is still referred to in modern texts on the subject. Georges also completed many of the multi-volume archaeological and iconographic studies of Christian art and architecture that his father had left unfinished at his death in 1875.

An album pertaining to the Sacre Coeur church in the CCA photography collection contains lithographs by Georges, which suggest that he was involved with some contemporary architectural projects. He was also a member of the Academy of Beaux-Arts in Florence and Pisa.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer:
  • The documents of the initial acquisition (DR1974:0002), and the subsequent additions (DR1986:0379-0413, DR1994:0167-0169), were acquired by the CCA beginning in 1974.
Other finding aids:
  • Consult a printable bibliography of the research sources used in describing the Rohault de Fleury Collection.
  • Consult a printable version of the complete finding aid.
Related units of description:
  • The CCA Library collection also contains 19th century materials related to the Rohault de Fleury family.
  • Other Rohault de Fleury materials are housed in the collections of the Musée Carnavalet, the Archives nationales de France, the Roger-Viollet Archives, and the Académie d'architecture, the Bibliothèque de l'Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the Bibliothèque histoique de la ville de Paris, the Bibliothèque de l'Opera, all in Paris.
General note:
  • The provenance of the Rohault de Fleury collection is unknown. The albums were probably compiled by a member of the family in the late nineteenth century. The inscription "vu [day and month] 1863", which appears in many of the albums, may relate to their compilation.
  • The Rohault de Fleury collection was originally catalogued and described by Karen Fraser, Elspeth Cowell and Aron Vinegar in 1993 and 1994. Cowell and Vinegar additionally wrote most of the texts for the collection's finding aid, which was edited and completed by Alexis Lenk in 2008 in order to conform to updated documentation procedures.

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