Palais du Luxembourg

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Palais du Luxembourg - garden facade

The Palais du Luxembourg is a castle in the 6th arrondissement of Paris , surrounded by an originally Baroque park landscape from the early 17th century, called Jardin du Luxembourg . It initially served as a residence for members of the royal family, became state property during the Revolution and has been the seat of the Senate , the second parliamentary chamber of France , since 1800 .

The palace was built between 1615 and 1620 by order of the French Queen Maria de 'Medici , daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and mother of Louis XIII. , built. Numerous architects have worked with the castle over the centuries, including Salomon de Brosse , Germain Boffrand and Jean-François Chalgrin .

historical overview

After the murder of her husband, King Henry IV. In May 1610, Maria, who did not feel at home in the Louvre , the residence of the French kings , wanted to have a dowager's residence built in the Florentine style based on the example of the Medici palace, the Palazzo Pitti in Florence . For this purpose she had asked Maria Magdalena of Austria , wife of Cosimo II. De 'Medici , cousin Maria de' Medici, to send her views of the Palazzo Pitti on October 6, 1611  . She then commissioned the architect Clément Métezeau to travel to Florence and make plans and drawings of the palace there.

At the time, on the site that Maria had chosen, there was still a country house built in 1546, which was named Petit Luxembourg after its owner, Duke François de Piney-Luxembourg († 1613) . In 1612 she acquired the property and three years later let her court architect Salomon de Brosse begin construction. The finished castle, called Grand Luxembourg , only matched the Florentine model in a few details. However, Maria could not enjoy the palace complex for long. In 1617 she was taken over by her 16-year-old son Ludwig XIII. exiled to Blois. She returned in 1619, but had to leave Paris for good in 1630 (see Journée des dupes ).

The castle was now for a while by little Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans , daughter of Gastons d'Orléans , the often rebellious and exiled younger brother of Louis XIII. inhabited. After Gaston's death in 1660, it served his second wife, Margaret of Lorraine († 1672), as a widow's residence. Then King Louis XIV had his illegitimate children raised there by his mistress Madame de Montespan . From 1715 until her death in 1719, it was inhabited by the scandalous Duchess of Berry , daughter of the regent Philip II of Orléans and his wife Françoise Marie de Bourbon , one of the daughters of Louis XIV with the Montespan.

View of the Palais du Luxembourg at the end of the 19th century

On October 14, 1750, parts of the royal collection of paintings from Versailles were opened to the public for the first time in the rooms of the palace. Everyone had access to fixed opening times. In 1779 the exhibition was closed because Louis XVI. had given the castle to his brother.

During the French Revolution , the Luxembourg was confiscated as "national property". It served temporarily as a weapons factory, then as a prison in which, among others, Camille Desmoulins , Georges Danton and Jacques-Louis David were held.

At the time of Napoleon around 1800, Jean-Francois-Thérèse Chalgrin converted the building into the seat of the Senate. He replaced the former rooms of the queen with the hall of the servants of the senate and the former Rubens gallery with today's reception stairs. In 1814, the Luxembourg seat of the second parliamentary chamber, the Chambre des Pairs , was considerably enlarged for this purpose from 1834 (according to other sources from 1836).

Since 1852 the Palais du Luxembourg has been the seat of the Senate (French: Sénat de la République Francaise ), the president of which traditionally lives in the Petit Luxembourg . During the Second World War , the building housed the headquarters of the German Air Force ; Field Marshal General Hugo Sperrle commanded Air Fleet 3 from here .

French media often write Palais du Luxembourg when they actually mean the parliamentary chamber that is sitting there ( metonymy ).

Building design


Floor plan of the Palais du Luxembourg

Although Maria de Medici wanted a building based on the Florentine model, Salomon de Brosse did not create a palazzo of Italian mannerism . Rather, with the symmetrical facade, the mirror-like floor plan and the pavilion-like side wings , he anticipated the type of the French baroque country palace, as he later realized many times (for example in Cheverny , Maisons-Laffitte , Vaux-le-Vicomte and also in the original building of Versailles ) and was imitated. Nevertheless, the architectural influence of the Palazzo Pitti can be seen. For example, the use of bossed masonry on all pilasters and columns is shaped by the Florentine influence.

The former three-wing complex, the entrance side of which is interrupted in its center by a low gallery with a domed portal , is grouped around a rectangular inner courtyard and thus follows earlier designs by de Brosses, which were already implemented in his castles in Coulommiers and Montceaux . De Brosse had also previously implemented the doubling of the corner pavilions of the Corps de Logis or the terrace in front of the courtyard facade at the Castle of Blérancourt.

In the 19th century, Alphonse de Gisors completely redesigned the garden facade of the building, before a new suite of rooms with a throne room in the style of the Second Empire was created from 1852 to 1854 .


The conference room of the Palais Luxembourg

Of the original furnishings of the Palais du Luxembourg , the Medici cycle , which was created from 1622 to 1625 based on designs by Peter Paul Rubens and is now in the Louvre, deserves a special mention. These 24 pictures show stages in the life of Maria de 'Medici.

From 1709 to 1711 the interior of the palace was redesigned by Germain Boffrand. Special mention should be made of the salons he created. The paintings in the library's reading room, executed by Eugène Delacroix from 1845 to 1847 , are still on site.

Individual evidence

  1. Virginie Spenlé: The Dresden Art Gallery and France. The “bon goût” in 18th century Saxony . Sax-Verlag, Beucha 2008, p. 225 ff.
  2. ^ Alan Tillier: Paris. Translated from English by Simon & Magiera and Siegfried Birle. Editor Brigitte Maier, Dorling Kindersley, Munich 2009/2010, ISBN 978-3-8310-1536-8 , p. 172.
  3. Samuel W. Mitchham, Gene Mueller: Hitler's commanders: Officers of the Armed Forces, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Waffen-SS. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham et al. 2012, ISBN 978-14422-1153-7 , p. 117.


Web links

Commons : Palais du Luxembourg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 48 ° 50 ′ 53.7 "  N , 2 ° 20 ′ 13.6"  E