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Friday, August 8, 2014

Original Production Animation Drawing of the Evil Queen from "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs," 1937


Original production drawing of the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937; Graphite, green, and red pencils on watermarked five peg hole paper; Production numbers stamp lower left and numbered 923 in graphite pencil lower right; Size - Queen 10 x 6 3/4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.


Development on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs began in early 1934, and by June Walt Disney announced to The New York Times the production of his first feature, to be released under Walt Disney Productions.  Before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Disney studio had been primarily involved in the production of animated short subjects in the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies series.  However, Disney hoped to expand his studio's prestige and revenues by moving into features, and he estimated that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs could be produced for a budget of $250,000 (this was ten times the budget of an average Silly Symphony).

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to be the first full-length cel animated feature in motion picture history, and as such Walt Disney had to fight to get the film produced. Both his brother and business partner Roy Disney, as well as his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it.  The Hollywood movie industry mockingly referred to the film, while is was in production, as "Disney's Folly."  Disney ended up having to mortgage his house to help finance the film's production, which would eventually ran up to a total cost of $1,488,422.74; an absolutely massive sum for a feature film in 1937!


Close up of the Evil Queen original production animation drawing.

The Evil Queen, one of the greatest Walt Disney animated villains of all time, was animated by the famous Disney animator Art Babbitt. Babbitt was already an accomplished animator prior to working on "Snow White," Disney's first full length animated film. He was known for creating the character of Goofy and for his work on "The Country Cousin," which won an Academy Award for the Disney Studio in 1936. The villain for Snow White was the Evil Queen; which Walt Disney and Joe Grant (Walt Disney character designer and story artist) had conceived as a blend of Lady Macbeth and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as traits inspired by actresses Joan Crawford and Gale Sondergaard. Refinement of the Queen was done by animators Grim Natwick and Norm Ferguson; however the actual animation of the Queen fell to Art Babbitt.

Rotoscoping, a technique used in animation whereby live actors are used to portray the characters and then animators trace over the footage frame by frame; was not used as much on the Queen as it was for the character of Snow White. Babbitt preferred to avoid rotoscoping and instead draw the character free hand. It has been stated that you could wallpaper a room with just drawings that Babbitt made just of her mouth and eyes; because all of the Queen's emotions came through her face. The Evil Queen, wonderfully voiced by veteran stage actress Lucille La Verne; holds a place in history as being the first character to ever speak in a full length animated film.


Close up of the production numbers stamp in the lower left.


Close up of the production number in the lower right.

This is a very large original production animation drawing of the Evil Queen from the pivotal part in the film when she is lifting the heart box up in order to present it to the Huntsman. The heart box was to insure that the Huntsman had indeed killed Snow White! The Evil Queen is eyes and mouth open and the drawing is accomplished in graphite, green, and red pencils. A rare and important drawing from Walt Disney's first full length animated feature film.

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:


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