The largest collections of one-of-a-kind production cels from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty, as well as animation drawings, storyboards, concept art, backgrounds, model sheets and original art from renowned Sleeping Beauty artist Eyvind Earle ever offered will land in new collections when they are sold in Heritage Auctions’ Animation Art Auction Aug. 6-8.
Also featured will be original artwork from all the major studios and all the animation greats, including Chuck Jones, Mary Blair, Gustaf Tenggren, Winsor McCay, Ub Iwerks, Ham Luske, Walt Peregoy, Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw and even a section of lots that are signed by Walt Disney.
The event is Heritage’s third Animation Art Signature Auction of 2021 and its first vintage Animation Art Signature auction of the year.
“This auction includes more than 1,700 lots of incredible artwork that represents the stories and characters so many of us know and love,” Heritage Auctions Vice President and Animation & Anime Art Director Jim Lentz said. “Eyvind Earle was such a pioneer in the evolution of background artwork. It’s easy to take for granted when watching an animated film, but when done at the level he did, it can enhance the entire viewing experience. He was an exceptionally important artist, so much so that places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Rahr West Art Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum have purchased some of his works for their permanent collections.”
The collection of work by Eyvind Earle includes 37 lots, mostly from Sleeping Beauty, but also from Lady and the Tramp and one from Pigs Is Pigs. The trove includes production cels, concept painting original art, production cel and master pan production background setups, concept and color key paintings, and study paintings from the artist who joined Walt Disney Studios in 1951, originally as an assistant background painter. A Disney Legend inductee, he caught Walt Disney’s eye a couple of years later when he created the look of Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom, an animated short that won an Academy Award and a Cannes Film Festival Award.
- Sleeping Beauty Princess Aurora’s Cradle with 3 Good Fairies Concept Painting Original Art (Walt Disney, 1959) – estimate: $25,000+
- Sleeping Beauty Production Cel and Master Pan Production Background Setup (Walt Disney, 1959) – estimate: $20,000+
- Sleeping Beauty Concept Painting Original Art (Walt Disney, c. 1958) – estimate: $10,000+
- Lady and the Tramp Concept/Color Key Painting (Walt Disney, 1955) – estimate: $2,500+
Among the most recognizable images in the auction is a Hair-Raising Hare Bugs Bunny and Gossamer Production Cel (Warner Brothers, 1946), by Chuck Jones, who wrote, produced and/or directed many classic cartoon shorts starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pepé Le Pew, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, among others. This sale includes the largest assemblage ever offered by Heritage Auctions of work by the three-time Academy Award winner, who also directed the first feature-length animated Looney Tunes compilation film, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979). This hair-raising production cel, with a pre-auction estimate of $10,000+, captures the first encounter between Bugs and Gossamer, who technically was unnamed in the film.
Other Jones highlights include:
- “The Art of Chuck Jones” Michigan J. Frog Oil Painting (Warner Brothers, 1996) – estimate: $50,000+
- Hasty Hare Marvin the Martian Production Cel (Warner Brothers, 1952) – estimate: $15,000+
- What’s Opera, Doc? Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny Illustration by Chuck Jones – Original Art (Warner Brothers, c. 1990s) – estimate: $10,000+
- Marvin the Martian and Daffy Duck Illustration by Chuck Jones – Original Art (Warner Brothers, c. 1990s) – estimate: $7,500+
No Animation Art event would be complete without a selection of works by Mary Blair, the artist, animator and designer known best for creating concept art for such films as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Cinderella. She also created illustrations for children’s books, Disneyland’s It’s a Small World attraction and even an enormous mosaic for Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Among her highlights in the auction are:
- Peter Pan Mermaids and Jolly Roger Pirate Ship Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1953) – estimate: $15,000+
- “It’s a Small World” Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1964/66) – estimate: $15,000+
- Cinderella Castle Concept/Color Key Painting (Walt Disney, 1950) – estimate: $10,000+
- Peter Pan Concept/Color Key Painting (Walt Disney, 1953) – estimate: $10,000+
- Cinderella Magic Coach Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1950) – estimate: $7,500+
Among the artists whose works are featured in the sale include Gustaf Tenggren, whose highlights include a Pinocchio Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1940) (estimate: $15,000), a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1937) (estimate: $5,000) and his powerful concept art for Fantasia “Night on Bald Mountain” (Walt Disney, 1940) (estimate: $5,000+).
Academy Award-winning animator, cartoonist, character designer and special effects technician Ub Iwerks created 13 lots offered in the sale, including a Steamboat Willie Animation Production Drawing (Walt Disney, 1928) (estimate: $5,000+), a group of four concept drawings from The Little Prince (Hugh Harman, 1943-44) (estimate: $2,500+) and a 1933 Willie Whopper Theatrical Poster (estimate: $750+).
Other artists featured in the sale are Carl Barks, Walt Peregoy and John Hench, among others.
Few characters conjure holiday images like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch, the grumpy cynic who tries to steal Christmas until his spirit is changed by the generous holiday spirit of a young girl. The sale features 24 Grinch lots, including:
- Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Blue-Eyed Grinch Production Cel Signed by Chuck Jones (MGM, 1966) – estimate: $5,000+
- Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Caroling Whos Production Cel Signed by Chuck Jones (MGM, 1966) – estimate: $2,500+
- Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Grinch and Max Production Cel Signed by Chuck Jones (MGM, 1966) – estimate: $1,500+
- Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Cindy-Lou Who Production Cel Sequence of 2 Signed by Chuck Jones (MGM, 1966) – estimate: $1,500+
Sometimes it’s not so much who created the artwork, but who once owned it. This auction features a trove of 95 lots once owned by Ted Berman, who worked for Disney for some four decades as a director, animator and screenwriter, breathing life into such infamous characters as Bambi and assorted characters from Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp and Mary Poppins.
The lots in the sale that he once owned include:
- A Mary Blair Susie the Little Blue Coupe Concept/Color Key Painting (Walt Disney, 1952) – estimate: $5,000+
- A Fun and Fancy Free “Mickey and the Beanstalk” Key Master Production Background (Walt Disney, 1947) – estimate: $2,500
- A Black Cauldron Taran and Cauldron Maquettes Group (Walt Disney, 1985) – estimate: $1,000+
- A Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too Storyboard Original Art Group of 40 (Walt Disney, 1974) –$750+
Additional lots come directly from the archives and estates of Disney Legend inductees Ham Luske, David Hand and Don Duckwall, Disney layout artist and producer Joe Hale, Disney artist Del Connell and longtime animator Paul Carlson.
For images and information on all lots in the auction, visit HA.com/7255.