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Snow White, Bugs Bunny, Pinocchio, among top draws in Heritage Auctions' Animation Art Auction
Pinocchio Concept Painting by Gustaf Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1940).

DALLAS, TX.- A magnificent Master setup from Disney’s first animation feature could bring $50,000 or more in Heritage Auctions’ Animation Art Auction Dec. 13-15 in Beverly Hills, California.

The first animation to span three days, the event is the largest ever held, with 1,832 lots, and includes one of the most coveted Bugs Bunny lots of all time, the estate of the man referred to as “the world’s greatest animator” and lots from the “Disney Renaissance” that helped bring film animation back to its highest levels.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White Production Cel on Master Production Background (Walt Disney, 1937) is from one of the most terrifying scenes in the film, in which the Huntsman tells Snow White to “Run! Run away, hide, anywhere, never come back, go, go go, go, hide!" after realizing that he can’t bring himself to kill her. J.B. Kaufman writes in his the book Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - The Art and Creation of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film: “Invited to create expressionist imagery for Snow White’s flight into the forest, the studio concept artists rose to the challenge with wildly evocation sketches and paintings.”

“This is an extraordinary image from one of the most beloved Disney films of all time,” Heritage Auctions Animated Art Director Jim Lentz said. “The trees with the angry faces were the creation of Disney artist Gustaf Tenggren, and an idea Walt Disney originally rejected. But he eventually gave in, and those backgrounds eventually became an important part of the film.”

A Pinocchio Concept Painting by Gustaf Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1940) depicts Geppetto’s workshop and the surrounding village, with children running off to school. The 16-by-11-inch museum-quality painting (estimate: $35,000+) is labeled “Seq.1A, Pinocchio” and signed by the artist, appears on page 90 in the book Pinocchio by Pierre Lambert and is an exceptional item from an important artist and a historic Disney film.

Also from the studio’s first animation feature film comes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White Bashful and Sneezy Production Cel and Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1937), with a pre-auction estimate of $25,000+, shows Snow White kissing Bashful goodbye, warning him to “Be awful careful … because if anything happened to you … I’d …” The historically important Key Master setup of Snow White sending the dwarfs off to work is hand-inked and hand-painted, with characters ranging in size from five to eight inches tall. Backgrounds in the film were painted by Samuel Armstrong, Claude Coats, Merle Cox, Phil Dyke, Ray Lackrem, Mique Nelson and Maurice Noble.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Storyboard Art by Gustav Tenggren (Walt Disney, 1937) actually is a museum-worthy pair of storyboards from the scene in which the Prince startles Snow White at the well, and then greeting her. “Hello … did I frighten you? Wait, wait. Please don’t run away.” Tenggren became Chief Illustrator and one of the art directors on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs shortly after getting hired by Disney in 1936, and his work was used in theatrical release posters, lobby cards and even in a two-month series in Good Housekeeping magazine before the film’s release.

The sale features a trove of lots from the films sometimes called the “Disney Renaissance,” a group thought to be responsible for boosting animation’s popularity up to its highest popularity that includes Disney favorites like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, etc.

“These films were made during a great resurgence of popularity for Disney,” Lentz said. “These films were so well made they allowed adults to remember the great Disney movies of years past, while creating an entirely new generation of Disney animation fans.”

Among the top lots in the group are:

• Beauty and the Beast Production Vertical Pan Background (Walt Disney, 1991): $10,000+

• The Little Mermaid Ariel Production Cel and Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1989): $2,500+

• Who Framed Roger Rabbit Jessica Rabbit Production Cel (Disney/Amblin, 1988): $2,500+

• The Little Mermaid Ursula Production Cel with Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1989): $2,500+

• Who Framed Roger Rabbit Jessica Rabbit Production Cel (Walt Disney/Amblin, 1988): $2,500+

• The Little Mermaid Ariel Production Cel with Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1989): $2,500+

• Who Framed Roger Rabbit Daffy Duck and Donald Duck Production Cels (Walt Disney/Amblin, 1988): $2,500+

• Beauty and the Beast Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts Presentation Cel with Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1991): $1,500

• Aladdin Jasmine Presentation Cel with Production Background (Walt Disney, 1992): $1,000+

The sale is the first of several in which Heritage Auctions will be offering the Robert Forbes Collection. Forbes spent the about four decades compiling this extraordinary collection. With an assortment of rare hand-painted production cels, animation production drawings, backgrounds and concept art, it is thought to be one of the finest in private hands. Among the top attractions among the 154 lots, including:

• Fantasia Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer's Apprentice Production Cel on Master Production Background (Walt Disney, 1940): $25,000+

• Pinocchio Blue Fairy and Pinocchio Production Cel (Walt Disney, 1940): $10,000+

• Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Old Hag Courvoisier Production Cel Setup (Walt Disney, 1937): $5,000+

Another popular group in the sale is a gathering of more than 50 lots by legendary Disney artist Mary Blair, who was considered Walt Disney’s favorite artist and was inducted in 1991 into the Disney Legends group. This sale includes the largest “It’s A Small World” art collection ever brought to auction. Among the top lots by Blair are:

• Mary Blair Cinderella Original Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1950): $15,000+

• Mary Blair "It's a Small World" Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1964/66): $10,000+

• Mary Blair "It's a Small World" Africa Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1964/66): $10,000+

• Mary Blair Peter Pan Original Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1953): $10,000+

Rev Chaney was an extraordinary animator who worked during the early days of what now is known as the “Golden Age of American animation,” and the legendary Chaney’s collection is considered one of the most important in the hobby. The demand is due in part to the fact that Warner Bros., which kept an archive of his work, deemed it worthless, and much of it was destroyed. This auction includes more than 100 lots from the Rev Chaney Archives, including:

• Baseball Bugs Bugs Bunny and Gas House Gorilla Production Cels Group of 2 (Warner Brothers, 1946): $5,000+

• Lost and Foundling Sniffles and Hawk Production Cel on Key Master Background (Warner Brothers, 1944): $3,500+

• Plane Daffy Bugs Hitler, Göring and Goebbels Production Cel Setup (Warner Brothers, 1944): $2,500+

• Falling Hare Original Model Sheet Drawing (Warner Brothers, 1943): $2,500

• Hair Ribbin'/When Herr Meets Hare Bugs Bunny Color Model Cel with Studio Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1944): $2,500+

• Unruly Hare/Cross Country Detours Elmer Fudd Color Model Cel on Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1945/40): $2,500+

The auction includes a trove of 76 lots from Bugs Bunny, one of the most popular characters ever drawn. Among the most intriguing lots from the furry favorite:

• Buckaroo Bugs/Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk Bugs Bunny Production Cel on Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1945/1943): $5,000+

• Buckaroo Bugs Bugs Bunny and Red Hot Ryder Production Cel (Warner Brothers, 1944): $5,000+

• Stage Door Cartoon Bugs Bunny Production Cel on Master Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1944): $3,500+

• Hare Force Bugs Bunny and Sylvester the Dog Production Cel on Master Production Background (Warner Brothers, 1944): $3,500+

Sometimes referred to as the “greatest animator of all time,” Art Babbitt earned more than 80 awards as an animation director and animator, and developed the character Goofy. He worked on such Disney classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo, among others. The auction includes 41 lots from the Art Babbitt Estate, including:

• Art Babbitt's Animation Desk, Shelf and Chair (Art Babbitt Estate, 1950's): $5,000+

• Art Babbitt's Disney Legend Award (Walt Disney, 2007): $2,500+

• Winsor McCay Award Presented to Art Babbitt (Art Babbitt Estate, 1974): $2,500+

• Snoopy Sketch by Charles Schulz (Art Babbitt Estate, 1971): $2,500+

One of the most popular cartoons of the 1970s and 1980s was Scooby-Doo, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Included among the 19 Scooby-Doo lots are:

• Scooby-Doo, Where Are You Mystery Machine Early Color Model Cel (Hanna-Barbera, 1969) – one of the first ever made, dated four months before the show premiered in 1969: $2,500+

• Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics End Title Cel with Key Master Background and Scoreboard Layout Drawing (Hanna-Barbera, 1977): $750+

• Scooby-Doo and Yogi's Great Escape Painted Production Background Group of 17 (Hanna-Barbera, 1969-87): $750+

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