Palais Bourbon

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The grand Roman portico added to the Palais Bourbon in 1806-08, by Bernard Poyet, architect

The Palais Bourbon, pronounced: [pa.lɛ buʁ.bɔ̃], a palace located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, on the left bank of the Seine, across from the Place de la Concorde. It is the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government.

History[edit]

The Palais Bourbon and the Hôtel de Lassay, as depicted on the Turgot map of Paris (1739)
Site plan of the Palais Bourbon and the Hôtel de Lassay (1730)

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 revolution[edit]

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.

Bourbon Restoration[edit]

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.[1] 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.

1840s[edit]

Delacroix, with the helps 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.[2]

The Chamber of Deputies elected in 1846 was abruptly disbanded by the February Revolution, which oversaw an unprecedented direct election by universal suffrage to convene a Constituent Assembly that was followed by a National Legislative Assembly in 1849. (See also French demonstration of 15 May 1848.)

Hôtel de Lassay[edit]

The adjacent Hôtel de Lassay, connected by a gallery to the Palais Bourbon, serves as the official residence of the National Assembly's president.

Library[edit]

The extensive library, originally set up from books belonging to the clergy and to aristocrats who left France during the Revolution, contains among others:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′43″N 2°19′07″E / 48.862036°N 2.318593°E / 48.862036; 2.318593