73 lots of featured art includes collections of rare production cels, animation drawings, and concept artwork, David Hall and Mary Blair pieces, and a variety of memorabilia signed by Walt Disney.
DALLAS -- One of the largest collections of artwork from Walt Disney’s Peter Pan ever brought to market, including masterpieces by David Hall and Mary Blair and the largest offering of art, photos, books, ephemera, checks, insurance cards and studio letters hand-signed by Walt Disney will be featured at Heritage Auctions’ June 19-21 animation art auction.
“This sale has as broad a range of material as any animated art auction has had,” commented animated art director Jim Lentz. “There are items from virtually every classic animated film, and by all of the best artists. The choices range from one of the largest collections of rare production cels, animation drawings, concept art, backgrounds, and storyboards from Peter Pan. There literally is something for collectors of all tastes in this sale.”
The Peter Pan Captain Hook production cel and key master background is one of 73 Peter Pan lots in the auction that include Peter and Wendy at the helm of Captain Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger. The original painting by David Hall (Walt Disney, 1940) has a pre-auction estimate of $25,000+. During early development of the animated feature, several concept paintings were created by Hall, whose contributions to the film is widely known among Disney scholars.
Other Peter Pan lots by Blair and Hall include:
- Mary Blair Peter Pan “Neverland Lagoon” original concept/color key painting original art (Walt Disney, c. 1950s): $5,000+
- Peter Pan Tinker Bell early concept painting by David Hall original art (Walt Disney, 1940): $5,000+
The auction includes an assortment of 25 lots hand-signed by Walt Disney. Disney was wary of signing autographs, for fear of sparking a swarm of people who wanted one of their own, which added to the rarity of his signature. Some Disney artists signed his name to their works, making items signed personally by Disney treasured keepsakes among collectors. Disney-signed lots in this auction include artwork, checks, photos, books, an insurance card, World War II ephemera and a letter on 1940 Fantasia stationery. Some of the top signed lots include, but are not limited to:
A Walt Disney signed 2-Page letter to stockholders (Walt Disney, 1941):
- A hand-typed letter on Walt Disney Productions stationery dated June 14, 1941, with a Fantasia logo on first page, and large Walt Disney signature on the second page. The letter (estimate: $5,000+) concerns stock dividends, the Screen Cartoonists Local #852 strike against the studio that began May 29 and lasted until sometime in September 1939, reducing the staff from 1,200 employees down to 400; and the effects of the coming war. It also mentions Fantasia finishing its roadshow run and The Reluctant Dragon as ready for release; it mentions two major films still in production, Dumbo, and Bambi. This is one of the oldest and most important known Walt Disney-signed letters.
Fantasia “Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria” Courvoisier concept art signed by Walt Disney (Walt Disney, 1940):
- From the final segment of the classic Fantasia with a pre-auction estimate of $5,000+, composer Deems Taylor introduces the scene as the conflict between the profane (represented by “Night on Bald Mountain”) and the sacred (“Ave Maria”). Framed in a round mat opening of 6-1/2 inches, this painting measures 9 inches by 8 inches, and is housed in a 15-by-16-inch frame. Disney signed the mat, which also has a “WDP” stamp, indicating that the lot originally was sold at the Courvoisier Gallery in San Francisco.
Peter Pan Captain Hook production cel and key master background signed by Walt Disney (Walt Disney, 1953):
- A Disney-signed piece (estimate: $5,000+) from the classic film, this image can be seen around the 21:40 mark in the film, at the first appearance of Captain Hook, who is smoking his double cigar while reviewing a map of Never Land. The cel image was hand-inked and hand-painted on acetate, and the key master background was rendered in gouache on background board of about 13 inches by 10 inches. This piece is from the background team of Eyvind Earle, Ralph Hulett, Ray Huffine, Art Riley, Thelma Witmer, Al Dempster, Dick Anthony, Brice Mack and Art Landy. The matboard was signed by Walt Disney to Oliver "Ollie” Wallace, a composer and conductor known for his music compositions for Disney animation, documentary and feature films and bears the “WDP” studio stamp.
Other highlights signed by Walt Disney include, but are not limited to:
- Mickey Mouse 25th birthday portrait print signed by Walt Disney (Walt Disney, 1953): $2,500+
- Walt Disney's Fantasia 1st edition book signed by Walt Disney (Walt Disney, 1940): $2,500
Among the top lots in the sale is a Pinocchio preliminary concept painting by Gustaf Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1940), a concept piece from a Walt Disney classic film with a pre-auction estimate of $35,000+:
- This piece became the design of the backgrounds and the overall look of the film, in which Tenggren introduced complex backgrounds to enhance the illusion of depth. This lot is a preliminary concept painting that shows Pinocchio’s village at night, with the only visible activity in Geppetto’s workshop. Visible at the top of the painting is the wishing star. This image, created with cut paper, graphite, and pastel, was used to create the final background in the first and fifth sequences. The final painted version can be found on page 96 of the Walt Disney film archives, the animated movies 1921-1968 by Taschen on page 96. The artwork is signed by Tenggren in the bottom left.
The auction includes more than 40 pieces by Disney artist Mary Blair, who was considered one of Walt Disney’s favorite artists and was inducted in 1991 into the Disney legends group. Highlights among the Mary Blair lots are:
- Mary Blair and Eyvind Earle Peter Pan concept art group of 2 (Walt Disney, 1953) are a pair of collaborations by the artists. Earle joined Walt Disney Studios in 1951 as an assistant background painter, but only after he began working as Blair’s apprentice did he embark on the career path that resulted in him becoming a Disney Legend inductee in 2015, 15 years after he died. Their partnership helped make Peter Pan one of the most dazzling and opulent animated films ever produced at the studio and led Earle to follow Blair’s career blueprint. The offered lot (estimate: $20,000+) is rendered in gouache on board; each piece measures 8 inches by 6 inches.
- Mary Blair Cinderella concept/color key original art (Walt Disney, 1950): $10,000+
- Mary Blair Cinderella concept painting (Walt Disney, 1950): $10,000+
- Mary Blair Alice in Wonderland Alice with flowers and birds concept painting (Walt Disney, 1951): $10,000+
The popular comic strip and cartoon is included in the auction with 58 Peanuts lots. The selection includes a large collection of single-cel pan progressions of both Snoopy and Charlie Brown – some have up to 15 images in the setup. Many are either signed by Peanuts’ artist Charles Schulz.
Peanuts “A Charlie Brown Christmas” nine-character production cel (Bill Melendez, 1965).
- This is an original hand-inked, hand-painted production cel of the skating scene from the opening of the first Charlie Brown CBS special, which premiered in December 1965 and won both an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award.
Other top Peanuts lots include, but are not limited to:
- Peanuts “The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show” World War I Flying Ace production cel sequence of 9 with pan master background (Bill Melendez, c. 1980s): $7,500+
- Peanuts “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” multi-character production cel (Bill Melendez, 1966): $5,000+
Art of Don “Ducky” Williams:
Becoming a Disney artist was a lifelong pursuit for Williams, who first wrote a letter to Disney when he was 10 years old. A 37-year senior character artist at Walt Disney World resort, he created "Walt Disney World's 35th Birthday" with airbrush (Walt Disney, 2006) for the celebration of Walt Disney World’s 35th birthday. The image (estimate: $10,000+) contains more than 30 Disney characters parading down the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, riding on the trolley, as well as 35 hidden Mickey Mouse ears, the location of which are pointed out in a diagram on the back; Cinderella’s Castle appears in the background. The massive painting has a mat opening of 21 by 32 inches and is housed in a frame that measures 48 by 36 inches, and was used for limited edition fine art prints, posters and consumer products, as well as other retail and promotional items. Both the brush and the instruction sheet are signed by Williams.
Other lots by Williams include, but are not limited to:
- “Walt Disney and Friends” illustration (Walt Disney, c. 1990s): $5,000+
- “The Art of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell” Illustration (Walt Disney, c. 1990s): $5,000+
Art of the Disney Store:
The sale features five lots from the store that opened in March 1987 in Glendale, California, and grew into a worldwide chain. Each store featured large-scale displays showcasing famous moments in Disney animation history, with the idea of providing visitors with a theme park-like experience. Among the highlights in the sale:
Seven Dwarfs store display (Walt Disney, c. 1990s) is an elaborate Disney Store display featuring all seven dwarfs, Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Sneezy, each standing between 27 and 30 inches high. The lot (estimate: $25,000+) also features the pipe organ that Grumpy played in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- Pluto and Donald Duck Store Display (Walt Disney, c. 1990s): $2,500+
- Donald Duck and Pete Store Display (Walt Disney, c. 1990s): $2,500+
- Mickey Mouse Store Display (Walt Disney, c. 1990s): $2,500+
The art of Tim Burton:
Widely known as a film director, Burton’s artwork has long been in high demand among collectors, who will have a chance to bid on 30 Burton lots in this auction. Among the highlights:
- The Nightmare Before Christmas Giclée Suite in Case limited edition #266/315 (Touchstone/Disney, 2005): $5,000+
- The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Jack Skellington limited edition charger bowl by Brenda White prototype (Walt Disney, 1997): $2,500+
- The Nightmare Before Christmas Zero limited edition charger bowl by Brenda White prototype (Walt Disney, 1997): $2,500+
- “The Art of Tim Burton” character drawing original art (Walt Disney, 1982): $2,500+
Included in the auction are 48 lots from The Simpsons, the longest-running American sitcom and scripted primetime television series, in terms of both seasons and number of episodes. Among those are 27 lots by Bill Plympton, the artist whose contributions to the show include the “couch gag” that appears in the opening of each episode. Highlights from the show include, but are not limited to:
- The Simpsons Couch Gag production cel and key master background setup (Fox, c. 1990s): $2,500+
- The Simpsons Bart and Lisa signed production cel with Matt Groening Sketch (Fox, 1990): $2,500
- Plympton’s The Simpsons Season 19 DVD box set animation drawings sequence of 3 (Fox, 2019): $2,000
- Plympton’s The Simpsons Season 19 DVD box set animation drawings Sequence of 5 Fox, 2019): $1,500+
Additionally the auction includes cartoon lots from Hanna-Barbera, Warner Brothers, Looney Tunes and MGM; classic films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty; and Disney Renaissance films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
Source: Heritage Auctions