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Original Animation Production Cel of Sleepy from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937

Original hand painted and hand inked production animation cel of Sleepy with a cymbal and fish flute set over an airbrushed Courvoisier background from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937, Walt Disney Studios; Size - Sleepy: 4 1/2 x 5 1/2", Image 5 1/4 x 6", Frame 11 1/2 x 12"; Framed with a gold wood frame, two acid free mats, and plexiglass.

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

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 Courvoisier background. Courvoisier Galleries was the first gallery to recognize the artistic value to the newly emerging animation art form, and in the 1930s and 40s created production cel setups to sell to the public. This cel is from the scene in the film, when all the Dwarfs perform "The Silly Song." The Dwarfs yodel and are also featured in a instrument septet. Here Sleepy is holding a cymbal in his right hand and his fish flute in his left. This is a perfect image of Sleepy; his mouth and drooping eyes are barely open, and he is full figure. A beautiful piece of vintage Walt Disney animation artwork, perfect for any collection!

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