Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Original Production Drawing of Princess Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959

Original production drawing of Princess Aurora in red, green, and graphite pencils from "Sleeping Beauty," 1959; Numbered 1 in pencil lower right; Size - Princess Aurora 7 1/2 x 4", Sheet 12 1/2 x 15 1/2"; Unframed.

"Sleeping Beauty," the 1959 Walt Disney full length motion picture, introduced two characters that would become universal favorites; Maleficent and Princess Aurora. Aurora, along with Snow White and Cinderella would be forever immortalized in the public's view as the three greatest Disney Princesses. The original design for Aurora was developed by Tom Oreb, who based the character on the famed Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn; known for her thin frame and a very graceful demeanor. Marc Davis, the head animator for Aurora, would continue the development of the character by morphing her general appearance and the clothing of the heroine. The fine tuning of the character continued so that she could be combined with the very angular forms present in the Eyvind Earle hand painted backgrounds.

As with other Disney films, an actress was hired as a live-action model (as a guide for the animators) for Princess Aurora. Helene Stanley, who was also the model for Cinderella in 1950, became the model for the heroine. It is interesting to note that prior to marrying Marc Davis in 1956, Alice (Davis) designed some of costumes worn by Stanley in her acting role as Aurora. 

Close up of the Princess Aurora production drawing.

In 1952, the professional opera singer Mary Costa, after meeting people at a party with her future husband director Frank Tashlin, auditioned for the part of Disney's Princess Aurora. Walt Disney called her personally within hours of the audition to inform her that the part was hers. The success of the film "Sleeping Beauty," owes a chuck of those accolades to the voice of Mary Costa. Her songs were some of the most beautiful ever sung by a Disney Princess. In November 1999 Mary Costa received the Disney Legends Award, and her handprints are now a permanent part of the Disney Legends Plaza at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios.

The majority of the film does not have Aurora on the big screen, but rather her disguised form Briar Rose. Even though Princess Aurora is one of the most loved of all the Disney Princesses, she has least amount of screen time of any prior Princess; only 18 minutes to be exact and during those 18 minutes she only has 18 lines. 

Close up of the production number.

This drawing is an absolutely wonderful work, from the scene in the film when Maleficent has enchanted Princess Aurora. Slowly Aurora climbs a stone staircase leading into an empty room, where suddenly a spinning wheel appears. Soon Maleficent is heard urging Aurora to touch the spindle (thereby fulfilling the evil curse) as the three good fairies are quickly flying to save her; all the while shouting "Don't touch anything!" This is the first drawing created, from this most iconic scene in the film, with green highlight shading around the back of Aurora. She has both eyes open and her hand is outstretched towards the spindle of the spinning wheel.

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