Reflections in the Luxembourg Quarter, Paris


Reflections in the Luxembourg Quarter Paris 20cm x 26cm Original Oil on Primed Belgian Linen by

Ramon Ward-Thompson

The Luxembourg Quarter in Paris portrays the gentler side of Paris – its charm lying in its old gateways, cafes, bookshops, ancient winding streets and residential avenues of Haussman era buildings.  The Luxembourg Gardens and Palace are to be found here at the top end of the Boulevarde St. Michel.  Towering over all this is the magnificent dome of the Pantheon, commissioned by Louis XV in 1744 to celebrate his recovery from a serious illness.  Originally intended as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, its construction was still being carried out during the Revolution and on its completion the building was never consecrated but became instead a resting place for the tombs of France’s good and great.  The colourful flower display and warm welcoming light from the sidewalk café offer a warm contrast against the grey light of an April morning where the magnificent Neo-Classical lines of the Pantheon can be seen in the misty background.

In 1611, Marie de’ Medici, the widow of Henry IV and the regent for the King Louis XIII, decided to build a palace in imitation of the Pitti Palace in her native Florence. She purchased the Hôtel du Luxembourg and began construction of the new palace. She commissioned Salomon de Brosse to build the palace and a fountain, which still exists. In 1612 she had 2,000 elm trees planted; she directed a series of gardeners, most notably Tommaso Francini, to build a park in the style she had known as a child in Florence. Francini planned two terraces with balustrades and parterres laid out along the axis of the château, aligned around a circular basin. He also built the Medici Fountain to the east of the palace as a nympheum, an artificial grotto and fountain, without its present pond and statuary. The original garden was just eight hectares in size.

In 1630 she bought additional land and enlarged the garden to thirty hectares, and entrusted the work to Jacques Boyceau de la Barauderie, the intendant of the royal gardens of Tuileries and the early garden of Versailles. He was one of the early theorists of the new and more formal garden à la française, and he laid out a series of squares along an east–west alley closed at the east end by the Medici Fountain, and a rectangle of parterres with broderies of flowers and hedges in front of the palace. In the centre he placed an octagonal basin with a fountain, with a perspective toward what is now the Paris Observatory.

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