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Palais Luxembourg / Luxembourg Palace

The Luxembourg Palace was the residence of Marie de Medici. The name of the palace is derived from the Duke of Piney-Luxembourg [Duch de Piney-Luxembourg], whose mansion once stood on the same site. The queen intended to call the palace Palais Medicis, though the name has always clung to it which is derived from Francois de Luxembourg, Prince de Tingry, who owned the site in 1570. It has been officially known, under different governments, by the names of the governmental bodies which have successively occupied it; e.g. Palais du Directoire, du Consulat, du Senat-conservateur, de la Chambre des Pairs, de la Prefecture, and du Senat. After passing through different destinations during the Revolution, it became the official residence of the executive during the Directory. It was later devoted to the sittings of the Senate. It was occupied by the Senate from 1852 to 1870, and thence until 1879 by the Prefecture of the Seine and the municipal council. It was since 1879 again occupied by the Senate.

The palace is situated in the Rue de Vaugirard, in the southern part of Paris, celebrated for its architecture, its gallery of modern French art, and its gardens. Its erection was begun in 1616 by Salomon de Brosse, for Maria de' Medici, and its rusticated masonry was intended to recall the architecture of the Pitt: Palace in Florence, her former home. It was completed in 1620, but altered internally by Chalgrin near the end of the eighteenth century. Between 1835 and 1841 the main body of the palace was nearly doubled in size and provided with a new southern or garden facade reproducing the former one, while in the court inclosed between the old and new constructions a magnificent semicircular hall was built for the sessions of the House of Peers, and later of the Senate.

Between 1835 and 1841 the main body of the palace was nearly doubled in size and provided with a new southern or garden facade reproducing the former one, while in the court inclosed between the old and new constructions a magnificent semicircular hall was built for the sessions of the House of Peers, and later of the Senate. These additions were the work of A. de Gisora. The Hall of the Senate was destroyed by fire in 1859, but was rebuilt on the same design.

It has served throughout nearly its whole history as a royal or public picture-gallery. An important series of twenty-four paintings by Rubens, illustrating the life of Maria de' Medici, once occupied the east gallery, but is now in the Louvre, and the splendid Museum of Modern Art, which formerly occupied this gallery and other apartments of the palace, is now housed in a neighboring and comparatively modern building, though still known as the MusPe du Luxembourg.

This was on the whole the most important collection of contemporary art in existence, and is devoted to both sculpture and painting. About ten years after an artist's death, his works are removed to the Louvre or to the provincial galleries. Most of the works are by French artists, but there is a special room devoted to other nationalities, the American being the best represented next to the French. The magnificent ceilings and mural decorations of the Senate Chamber, Salle d'attente, and other apartments of the palace constitute in themselves a notable collection of the works of Flandrin, Bouchot, Vauchelet, Pujol, and others, besides examples of the work of Rubens, Philippe de Champagne, Poussin, and other masters of the seventeenth century.

The building itself, with all its alterations, has preserved unchanged its original style and character. While recalling by its rusticated masonry the garden front of the Pitti Palace, it is thoroughly French in design. The main structure, originally H-formed in plan, fronts on a Court of Honor, which measures 300 by 360 feet, and is inclosed on the flanks and front by low wings or galleries. The entrance from the Rue de Vaugirard to this court is through a domecapped portal serving as a clock-tower, an extremely successful design. Each of the four facades of the main palace, as enlarged in 183541, consists of a central pavilion with two corner pavilions, the whole being covered by a high roof of the type commonly known as a Mansard. The proportions of all parts of the building are happy, the composition and details dignified and harmonious, the internal decorations admirable and in places sumptuous. The apartments of Maria de' Medici were restored in 1817 and refurnished in the style of her time, and the elegant chapel adjoining them was restored in 1842. The gardens of the Luxembourg are of great extent and beauty. Originally laid out by De Brosse, they were nearly stripped in the Revolution, but restored in 1801, and although somewhat reduced in size by the cutting through of modern streets, they are still among the most noted gardens in France, and the only survival in Paris of a genuine Renaissance garden.




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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:58:19 ZULU