The Palais Bourbon is the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government. The palace was originally built for the legitimised daughter of Louis XIV and Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan - Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, duchesse de Bourbon, to a design by the Italian architect Lorenzo Giardini, approved by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Giardini oversaw the actual construction from 1722 until his death in 1724, after which Jacques Gabriel took over, assisted by L'Assurance and other designers, until its completion in 1728.
Rather than a palace, for it was not a royal seat of power, the French termed it a maison de plaisance overlooking the Seine, facing the Tuileries to the east and the developing Champs-Élysées on the west. At the start it was composed of a principal block with simple wings ending in matching pavilions. Bosquets of trees—planted in orderly rank and file—and parterres separated it from the nearby Hôtel de Lassay. In 1756 Louis XV bought it for the Crown, then sold it to the grandson of the Duchess, Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé, for whom Jacques-Germain Soufflot directed an enlargement in 1765.
During the French Revolution the Palais Bourbon was nationalized, and the Council of the Five Hundred met in the palace from 1798. Then, as part of Napoleon's plans for a more monumental Paris, Fontanes, the president of the Corps législatif as it was now called, commissioned the magnificent pedimented portico by architect Bernard Poyet, added to the front of the Palais that faces the Place de la Concorde from the south. It mirrors the similar classicizing portico of the Madeleine, visible at the far end of the rue Royale.
In a symptom of the political tone of the Bourbon Restoration, the returning exile, the prince de Condé took possession, and rented to the Chamber of Deputies a large part of the palace. The palace was bought outright from his heir in 1827, for 5,250,000 francs. The Chamber of Deputies was then able to undertake major work, better suiting the chamber, rearrangement of access corridors and adjoining rooms, installation of the library in a suitable setting, where the decoration and one of the salons were entrusted to Delacroix, later a Deputy himself. The pediment was re-sculpted by French artist Jean-Pierre Cortot.
Delacroix, with the help of some assistants, painted the entire vault of the long gallery which was to house the library. His work there was completed by the end of 1847 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece by the critic.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.