Branicki Palace was built for Count Jan Klemens Branicki, Great Crown Hetman and patron of art and science, who transformed a previous house into the suitably magnificent residence of a great Polish noble. He also laid out the central part of the town of Bialystok, not a large place in the 18th century, with its triangular market.
Starting in 1728 the reconstruction of the palace was directed by Johann Sigmund Deybel. Under his supervision, the structure was enhanced, the tympanum and domes on the towers were added. Deybel is also the author of the main façade. The existing pavilions and outbuildings were merged with the main building (corps de logis) according to French model to form wings surrounding a horseshoe court - the courtyard of honor (cour d'honneur), which was closed with a gate built in 1758 by Jan Henryk Klemm.
After the death of Deybel, in the years 1750–1771, the rebuilding of the palace was supervised by Jakub Fontana, who was an author of the palace's vestibule, rococo interiors and the staircase with statues by Jan Chrysostom Redler (1754). The fence between the initial (avant cour) and honor courtyard was adorned in 1757 with two monumental sculptures by Redler - Hercules fighting the dragon and Hercules fighting the hydra. Interior decorations were conducted by artists such as Szymon Czechowicz, Ludwik Marteau, Augustyn Mirys, Jean-Baptiste Pillement, fresco painters such as Georg Wilhelm Neunhertz (in 1738) and Antoni Herliczka and stucco decorators Samuel Contesse and Antoni Vogt.
The newly created Versailles de la Pologne concentrated many great artists, poets including Elżbieta Drużbacka and Franciszek Karpiński and scientists. A theater, orchestra and ballet were established.
With the third Partition of Poland it went to the Prussian Kingdom and, after 1807, to Russia. In the summer of 1920, briefly, the palace was the headquarters of the Provisional Polish Revolutionary Committee. Branicki Palace suffered from bombing and fires caused by the Germans, with damage totaling approximately 70%. It was restored after World War II as a matter of national pride. The Medical University is housed in the Palace.
A straight avenue centered on the palace passes across the river on a three-arched bridge across the river, which is confined with deep stone embankment walling, to the large enclosed paved forecourt. The central block has two storeys upon a high arcaded basement story, with a pedimented central block displaying Branicki's coat-of-arms and end pavilions that have squared domes in two tiers. The roofline is an Italianate balustrade that masks a low attic story, and the heroic sculptural group of Atlas crowning all.
Surrounding the Palace are the grounds. The garden front has a terrace raised on columns, which forms a podium for viewing the parterre in the French taste with a main central allée and French sphinxes, and a later 'English garden,' in the naturalistic taste associated with the English park, surrounding the grounds. The central axis continues to a guest pavilion. Other outbuildings include the Arsenal (1755), Orangery and Italian and Tuscan Pavilions.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.