This project would not be possible without the work of Henri Pourrat. In the future, when some other idiot goes looking for a Medieval illuminated version of his work, I want them to find mine. For posterity, I’ve illuminated his text verbatim. Later, I re-interpreted The White Rat to suit my purposes, and have had my version translated into French as well as all the other languages of the project. This version of La Rate Blanche is in homage to Pourrat.
La Rate Blanche by Chandra Brooks. All images are artwork which have been produced and copyrighted by Chandra Brooks.
La Rate Blanche is an illustrated version of Pourrat’s interpretation of the fairytale, as written in Les Fees from his pivotal 13-volume work, Le trésor des contes (The Treasury of Tales, 1948-62). This is illustrated as a medieval French illuminated manuscript. The ornamental frames are based on those found in the Heures de Maréchal de Boucicaut. He was awarded the honorific Marshal of the Empire by Charles VI following exceptional service which included crusading against the Ottoman Empire. The aesthetic coming from the Boucicaut Master’s Book of Hours makes him one of the model kings for the edition. A Book of Hours was the devotional book used by Christians in the Middle Ages. Each is unique although they all contain texts, prayers and psalms. They were mostly minimal; sometimes only with one historiated capital. Others, made for wealthy patrons, were lavish. Some of the more expensive ones would have portraits of saints with the faces of the patron and their crest and emblems worked into the illuminations. This Book of Hours, from the collection of the Musée Jacquemart-André, is named after the Marshal because the miniaturist/illuminator has become anonymous over time.
Although the timelines are incongruous, the calligraphic hand is a credit to the rule of Charlemagne and the irony of his developing the written word by sanctioning the creation of Carolingian Minuscule, an alphabet which would make clerical and liturgical documents more legible and therefore more accessible to the masses. This philosophy of accessibility underlies one of the principles of sharing in The Universal Fairytale. Despite continual efforts to learn later in life, Charlemagne like many calligraphers, remained illiterate.