"The White Cat"
My submission to the Mazza Children's Museum's exhibition "Maidens of Myth". Gouache on Paper 2018.
I have always loved the Beauty and Beast fairytale. It's a story about finding the beauty of a person despite appearances. However I had always identified myself as the Beauty in the story. The person that finds the lovable in the unlovable. I had never thought of myself as the Beast, the one cursed to be alone. "The White Cat", or La Chatte Blanche, by Madame d'Aulnoy is a reverse Beauty and the Beast story. The White Cat was a princess who was cursed by her fairy foster mothers after she secretly married a king for love. To punish her they had their dragon eat the White Cat's husband in front of her then cursed her and her six kingdoms. The curse could not be broken until another man, who looked exactly like her late husband, fell in love with her. Despite her curse, she takes control and finds the positive. She becomes a queen and, in the course of the story, holds a court, has hunting parties, is a patron to the arts and conducts a war against rats. She even keeps up to date with politics of the world outside. She doesn't wallow or resort to violence to change her curse. When the prince of this tale arrives she allows him to come and go as he pleases and helps him win his kingdom, even though she knows he can break her curse. This is a stark contrast to the classic tale, in which the Beast basically kidnaps Beauty and forces her to spend time with him. Throughout the story the White Cat does not let herself become a victim to her misfortune. She continues to be the best person she can be. If I am to be the "Beast" of a Beauty and the Beast story, I want to be the White Cat. I illustrated her as a stately widowed queen her for "Maidens of Myth." I wanted to present her as someone who did not lose her sense of grace or humanity despite a terrible curse.