Essential Architecture-  Paris

Luxembourg Palace and the Jardin du Luxembourg  (familiar nickname Luco)

architect

Salomon de Brosse

location

Paris 6th - métro: Odéon or St-Michel or RER Luxembourg
One of the most romantic parks in Paris.
Luxembourg is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace.

date

1615.

style

French Baroque

construction

Stone

type

Outdoor space/ Park Palace
 
  Luxembourg Palace at sunset
 
  In fine weather Parisians fill the Jardin du Luxembourg
 
  Chapel in the Petit-Luxembourg, built 1622-31
 
  People relaxing in front of the Luxembourg Palace
 
  The Luxembourg Palace seen from the garden
 
  Gardens in front of the Palais de Luxembourg
 
  People relaxing in the "Luco"
 
  Panoramic view of the Jardin du Luxembourg
 
  Borders of annuals in August
 
  Marie de Médicis' fountain, now with Polyphemus Surprising Acis and Galatea, by Auguste Ottin (1866)
   
Luxembourg Palace

The Palais du Luxembourg in the VIe arrondissement of Paris, north of the Luxembourg Garden, is where the French Senate meets.

The formal Luxembourg Garden (Jardin du Luxembourg) presents a 25-hectare green parterre of gravel and lawn populated with statues and provided with large basins of water where children sail model boats. In the southwest corner, there is an orchard of apple and pear trees and the théâtre des marionettes (puppet theatre).

History

The palace was built for Marie de Médicis, mother of king Louis XIII of France, just near the site of an old hôtel particulier owned by François, duc de Luxembourg, hence its name (now called Petit Luxembourg, home of the president of French Senate). Marie de Médicis bought the structure and its fairly extensive domain in 1612 and commissioned the new building, which she referred to as her Palais Médecis, in 1615. Her architect was Salomon de Brosse. Its construction and furnishing formed her major artistic project, though nothing remains today of the interiors as they were created for her, save some architectural fragments reassembled in the Salle du Livre d'Or. The suites of paintings she commissioned, in the subjects of which she expressed her requirements through her agents and advisors, are scattered among museums.

Most famously, a series of twenty-four triumphant canvases were commissioned from Peter Paul Rubens.[4] A series of paintings executed for her Cabinet Doré ("gilded study") was identified by Anthony Blunt in 1967.[5] To the right of the block of the Luxembourg, erected at the same time, was the mass of the Palais du Petit-Luxembourg (see below).

She installed her household in 1625, while work on interiors continued. The apartments to one side were reserved for the Queen and the matching suite on the other for Louis XIII (floor plan). Construction was finished in 1631; the Queen Mother was forced from court the same year, following the "Day of the Dupes". Louis commissioned further decorations for the Palace from Nicolas Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne.

In 1642, Marie bequeathed the Luxembourg to her second son, Gaston d'Orléans, the king's younger brother. It passed to his widow and to his daughter, Anne, Duchess of Montpensier, who made it her residence. Her daughter, the duchesse de Guise, inherited it in 1660 and gave it to Louis XIV in 1694. The palace was not used again until it was owned by Louis XVI who gave it in 1778 to his brother, the Comte de Provence. During the French Revolution, it was briefly a prison, then the center of the French Directory and later the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of France. It has continued its senatorial role, with brief interruptions, ever since.

In the nineteenth century the palace was extensively remodeled, with a new garden façade by Alphonse de Gisors (1836-1841), and a cycle of paintings (1845-1847) by Eugène Delacroix that was added to the library.

During the German occupation of Paris (1940-1944), Hermann Göring took over the Palais as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital.

His subordinate, Luftwaffe Field Marshal Hugo Sperrle, also took an apartment and spent most of the war enjoying the luxurious surroundings. "The Field Marshal's craving for luxury and public display ran a close second to that of his superior, Goering; he was also his match in corpulence," wrote armaments minister Albert Speer after a visit to Sperrle in Paris.

The Palais was a designated "strong point" for German forces defending the city in August 1944, but thanks to the decision of commanding Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz to surrender the city rather than fight, the Palais was only minimally damaged.

The building was later used for the peace conference of 1946.

The Petit-Luxembourg
To the west of the Luxembourg, and communicating with it through interior courts, the sixteenth-century original hôtel of françois de Luxembourg was rebuilt during the same years, the smaller palace now called the Petit-Luxembourg; it is composed of two main blocks, or corps de logis separated by a courtyard that is entered through a grand convex portal flanked by Tuscan columns. The Petit-Luxembourg has been used since 1958 as the residence of the president of the Sénat.

The Queen Mother passed it to the Cardinal de Richelieu, who occupied it while his own grand palace, the Palais-Royal, was constructed in the rue St-Honoré. Once there, he ceded the Petit-Luxembourg to his niece the duchesse d'Aiguillon. By inheritance it passed to her son Henri-Jules de Bourbon, prince de Condé,[6] whose widow Anne, princesse palatine de Bavière, made it the habitual residence of her widowhood, making adjustments to suit her status that included the grand staircase and salon by Germain Boffrand (1709-13[7] and adding another hôtel for her household, with her kitchens and stables, on the other side of rue Vaugirard; an underground passage linked the two residences.

Gallery of Residents


Cardinal Richelieu


Coronation of Marie de' Medici in St. Denis (detail), by Peter Paul Rubens, 1622-1625. This was one of the famous series of paintings Marie had commisioned for the palace that she built.


Gaston, Duke of Orléans in 1634 - lived at the palais for a while after his exile to Blois


Anne, Duchess of Montpensier lived here with her father Gaston.


Marie Louise Elisabeth d'Orléans, lived here after the death of her husband.


The Duchess of Módena in Nébé. Portrait by Pierre Gobert, Palace of Versailles.


Louise Elisabeth of Orléans - Died here in 1742 after her failed marriage to the King of Spain.


Louis XVIII of France lived here while he was still Monsieur in the reign of his brother Louis XVI

Notes
^ Remarked upon in correspondence of the Florentine resident Giovanni Battista Gondi, in Deborah Marrow, "Maria de' Medici and the Decoration of the Luxembourg Palace" The Burlington Magazine 121 No. 921 (December 1979), pp. 783-788, 791.
^ The history of the Luxembourg Palace is discussed in R. Coope, Salomon de Brosse (London, 1972).
^ Marrow 1979.791.
^ They are conserved in the Louvre.
^ Blunt, "A series of paintings illustrating the History of the Medici Family executed for Marie de Médecis", The Burlington Magazine 109 (1967), pp 492-98, 562-66, and Marrow 1979.
^ Contemporary references call it the Petit-Bourbon to distinguish it from the Hôtel de Bourbon.
^ dates from Wend von Kalnein, Architecture in France in the Eighteenth Century (Yale University Press) 1995:39; see also Andrew Ayers, The Architecture of Paris (Paris: Axel Menges) 2004:132, no. 6.9.; "Welcome to the French Senate".



Floor plan shows the large enclosed cour d'honneur
 
Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg (familiar nickname Luco) is a 224,500 m² public park and the largest in the city, located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France. Luxembourg is the garden of the French Senate, which is itself housed in the Luxembourg Palace.

These gardens include a large fenced-in playground that is very popular with local young children and their parents. Adjacent to it is a puppet theatre and a merry-go-round. On occasion, pony rides are also available. In addition, free musical performances are presented in a gazebo on the grounds and there is an anonymous, inexpensive restaurant nearby, under the trees, with both indoor and outdoor seating from which many people enjoy the music over a glass of wine.

The garden is famed for its calm atmosphere. On the little pond children play with miniature boats. The garden contains various statues and sculptures. Surrounding the pond are a series of statues of former French queens.

The École nationale supérieure des Mines de Paris and the Odéon theatre stand next to the Luxembourg Garden.

Open hours depend on the month: opening between 7:30 and 8:15 am; closing between 4:45 and 9:45 pm.

Trivia

On December 7, 1815, Marshal of France Michel Ney was executed here by firing squad after having been convicted on a charge of treason for joining Napoléon Bonaparte during the Hundred Days.
There is also a painting by Henri Matisse entitled Luxembourg Gardens. It was stolen during an armed robbery of the Chaara do Ceu museum where it was housed.
The Luxembourg Garden (and its boat lake) features prominently in the French in Action instructional television series.
Features in the classic children's picture book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.
The garden is where Marius meets Jean Valjean and Cosette in Les Misérables.
George Orwell spent his time there when he was Down and Out in Paris and London, (in Paris in this case).
The first model of the Statue of Liberty is found here
Gardens in front of the Palais de Luxembourg
People relaxing in the "Luco"
Statue of St. Bathilde, Queen of France in the 7th century
The Luxembourg Palace seen from the garden

Borders of annuals in August
A version of the Arrotino under a beech

Fountain,with a long view.

links

The Jardin du Luxembourg - Current and old photographs of the garden, statues, fountains
Detailed map with sculptures
The Luxembourg Gardens at Twilight - One of a series of paintings featuring the gardens by American (b. Italy) artist John Singer Sargent
www.essential-architecture.com