Still the Fairest of Them All

Coming into 1935, Walt Disney had met all the artistic and individual roadblocks in his path to become the top animator and animation studio in the world. The earlier short subjects had all been proving grounds for technological and artistic ideas. He introduced synchronized sound to the film world with Steamboat Willie in 1928, a full and total musical cartoon Skeleton Dance in 1929, a full three strip technicolor Flowers and Trees in 1932, and a full personality animation Three Little Pigs in 1933. Yet there was one more towering obstacle to conquer. Disney wanted to make the first feature length technicolor animated cartoon.

Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney Studios

Soon, Disney started his great talent acquisition. With each talented animator from a rival studio convinced to work for him, he took one more step closer to fulfill his dream. For example, Disney brought Myron “Grim” Natwick over from the New York based Fleischer Studio. Natwick was one of the top animators in realistically animating the human figure. He would go on to animate Snow White and the Prince. Great and legendary animators like Fred Moore and Vladimir Tytla, the greatest animator of the golden age, would excel in their animation of the dwarves.


Lot 1424, Disney Snow White & The Seven Dwarves Cel Set Up

In our May 11th gallery auction, Alex Cooper Auctioneers is offering lot 1424, a unique production cel from Snow White & the Seven Dwarves. What makes this cel unique is the fact that it has six characters: five dwarves, Doc, Sleepy, Bashful, Happy and Sneezy, and Snow White herself ascending a staircase. You can clearly see that the cels were animated and inked separately as Snow White is cut out and placed in the cel setup and laid on a background. We can see the beautiful ink and paint technique executed in this set up. Here animators turned drawings into actors with believable emotions. Literally thousands of these were used to create this ground breaking film. It was not just the feature length that made this film special, it was the production set into motion and supervised under the watchful eye of a brilliant and gifted visionary producer guiding artists just as extraordinary that made this come to be.

Snow White & the Seven Dwarves would be released and quickly considered to be groundbreaking. This 1937 film would set the stage for other masterpieces from the “golden era” of Walt Disney Studios like Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942), as well the work of the 1950s. In setting a president for some of the greatest animated films of all time, let us not forget at almost 90 years, who is still the fairest one of all.


James Plumer
Specialist of Asian Arts