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Monday, December 21, 2015

Original Animation Production Cel of Sleepy Set On A Wood Veneer Courvoisier Background from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937


Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Sleepy set on an airbrushed wood veneer Courvoisier background from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937; Size - Sleepy: 3 1/4 x 4 1/2", Image 8 x 8"; 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!

Although the initial concept designing of the dwarfs was relatively easy for the Walt Disney animation department, the actual animating of them proved to be difficult. The animators, already finding human figures difficult to animate, now had to animate dwarfed human figures. The great Disney animator Vladimir Tytla noted that the dwarfs should walk with a swing to their hips, and Fred Moore commented that they had to move a little more quickly in order to keep up with the other human characters. In order to establish Sleepy's character during the march home in "Heigh Ho", the animation director Vernon Stallings noted that traits specific to Sleepy should be taken into account. An early drawing by Albert Hurter of Sleepy with his mouth wide open in a yawn inspired the lead animator for the character, Fred Moore to be more extreme in Sleepy's animation. Moore made sure that, on every animation drawing of Sleepy, one eye was larger than the other; or one eye was more squashed than the other; in order to suggest the dwarf's perpetual sleepiness. Sleepy was voiced by the great Walt Disney voice actor, Pinto Colvig.

This is an absolutely wonderful original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Sleepy set on an airbrushed (used to create the shadow and the dwarf name) wood veneer Courvoisier background. The Courvoisier portrait series from Snow White is highly desired by collectors for their beauty. Courvoisier Galleries, the first to recognize the artistic value to the newly emerging animation art form, in the 1930s and 40s created the series to sell to the public. All the characters from the film were made for the series including The Seven Dwarfs, Snow White, The Huntsman, The Old Hag, and The Evil Queen. The character cels were trimmed and applied to the wood veneer background. This is a very nice expressive portrait of Sleepy with both eyes beginning to close and his left hand and arm propping up his sleepy head.