Rydzyna Castle was built in the early 15th century by Komes Jan of Czernina. Eighteenth-century architecture and town planning were such as to have made it a classic example of a baroque urban configuration joined to a manor house.
Rafał Leszczyński, then owner of Leszno, purchased the property in late 17th century. He oversaw construction work in 1690-1694 to convert the medieval castle into a baroque manor with four four-storey wings arranged around an internal courtyard, with four alcove towers in the corners. The conversion was led by the Royal Architect Giuseppe Józef Szymon Belotti. The interior arrangement, with its economical basement, first floor private apartments, and lavishly decorated second floor with its elegant interiors, are his work as well. The architect Pompeo Ferrari was commissioned to complete the work c. 1700. He redesigned the western wing of the castle with a two-storey ballroom over an elliptical vestibule. To the west, a garden was built over the former castle moats.
Rafał’s son, Stanisław Leszczyński, became King of Poland in 1704. The castle was burnt down during the Saxon Wars and Rydzyna was placed under Saxon administration from 1709. Stanisław Leszczyński left for France.
Aleksander Józef Sułkowski, a minister of Augustus II the Strong, purchased the Leszczyński property in 1738. Sometime around 1740, he hired Silesian architect Karol Marcin Frantz and set about reconstructing the manor. The monumental, elegant stairway added to the north wing is his work. The stairway is connected to each floor via a stately vestibule. The west wing ballroom was rearranged and stucco decoration added by Jan Chrystian Grünewald from Legnica. The polychrome ceiling features Apoteoza Rodu Sułkowskich (The Apotheosis of the Sułkowski Family) by Silesian painter Georg Neunhertz. He probably painted the polychrome on the internal courtyard walls as well (their remains were uncovered during work carried out in the 1970s and 1980s.
The castle island was also extended and new moats were dug. A semi-circular courtyard was installed in front of the northern elevation of the castle. This was enclosed by annexes, a stable, a coach house and a dressage arena connected via galleries. August Sułkowski inherited the property in 1762. He aligned the manor and the city along a composition axis. In 1776, Ignacy Graff placed a semi-circular closed pool in the garden, surrounded it with stone sculptures by Jan Rimpler, and designed several park pavilions, including an orangery in which plays were staged. Graff is also credited with rebuilding the ballroom and having monumental marble columns installed inside it. The city also experienced a boom during the time of August Sułkowski, who created Rydzyna as an entailed estate in 1775.
The German government purchased the estate and turned the castle into a collegiate school when the last male heir in primogeniture died in 1909. When the country regained independence in 1918, the Rydzyna property was acquired by the Ministry of Education and converted into a boys’ high school with a dormitory. The castle was seized by Germany during WWII and was almost completely burnt down in 1945. Renovation, restoration and conservation work was carried out in the 1970s and 1980s.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.