The power behind the throne

Gérôme’s art epitomized the officially sanctioned, academic style against which the Impressionists rebelled. His paintings, with their imperceptible brushwork, meticulous detail, and brilliant effects of color and light, commanded huge prices in both France and America. L’Eminence grise recreates the palace of Cardinal Richelieu, the “Red Cardinal,” virtual ruler of France during the childhood of Louis XIII. Descending the staircase is Richelieu’s chief adviser, François Le Clerc du Trembly, a Capuchin friar known as L’Eminence grise (the Gray Cardinal), a term that has come to mean “the power behind the throne.”

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