DALLAS, Texas — A new record for artwork by Disney Legend Inductee Mary Blair was set when Mary Blair Cinderella Magic Coach Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1950) sold for $60,000, lifting the final total for Heritage Auctions' Animation Art Auction June 16-17 in Dallas to $1,456,032.40.
The painting quadrupled its pre-auction estimate, and Blair's works were in extremely high demand at the auction; the Cinderella Magic Coach concept painting was the top lot in the auction and had 20 bidders, and her artwork claimed the top spot, four of the top five and six of the top 10.
"Mary Blair is among the most acclaimed of all Disney artists," Heritage Auctions Animation Art director Jim Lentz said. "The number of her works that fared so well, and the fact that the Cinderella Magic Coach painting brought the highest price ever paid for one of her paintings shows that she and her artwork are more popular than ever."
One of the most popular cartoons ever made comes to life in a Chuck Jones The Dream Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner Oil Painting (1984), which brought $24,000. The painting is by legendary Warner Brothers director Chuck Jones, who created the characters and was an Academy Award-winning animator, producer, studio head, filmmaker and artist, and whose paintings are rare and coveted by collectors.
Mary Blair Cinderella King's Castle Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1950) mirrored the competitive bidding afforded the top lot, nearly tripling its pre-auction estimate before closing at $21,000. The image was done for Cinderella, one of three blockbuster cartoons that helped the Disney Studio recover after difficult post-war years in the late 1940s. Blair played a major role in all three films, as a designer and/or as a colorist.
Thanks to the efforts of 24 bidders, Blair's Song of the South Georgia Forest Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1946) nearly tripled its pre-auction estimate when it drew a final price of $19,200. Like this image featuring silhouette images of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, Blair's paintings of Georgia fields, dusty roads, wooden shacks and plantation mansions were adapted for the special effects sequences in Song of the South.
Multiple bidders aggressively pursued another Blair lot when her Peter Pan Mermaids Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1953) nearly quadrupled its estimate by finishing at $19,200. Blair's enormously popular mermaids can be seen in many different colors, as the artist experimented with the palette, perhaps in an effort to showcase their moods.
Eyvind Earle Sleeping Beauty Princess Aurora Background Color Key Art (Walt Disney, 1959) is another that drew heavy bidding realizing a final price of $19,200. Inducted as a Disney Legend in 2015, Earle's work on Sleeping Beauty earned him the greatest acclaim. This striking background Color Key/concept painting shows Princess Aurora, just days before her 16th birthday, sitting in her father's castle window, in front of a background that includes Earle's signature depiction of trees and the sun.
Other top lots included, but were not limited to:
- Mary Blair Susie the Little Blue Coup Concept Art (Walt Disney, 1952): $18,600
- Eyvind Earle Sleeping Beauty Forest and Castle Background Color Key Painting (Walt Disney, 1959): $16,800
- Eyvind Earle Sleeping Beauty Prince Phillip and the Dragon Background Color Key/Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1959): $12,000
- Mary Blair Peter Pan Jolly Roger Concept Painting (Walt Disney, 1953): $11,400
The auction also included a strong collection of 96 lots that includes production cels, backgrounds, illustrations and concept paintings – related to the classic animated Disney movie Pinocchio. The list includes, but is not limited to:
- Pinocchio Geppetto, Pinocchio, and Figaro Production Cel Setup with Key Master Background (Walt Disney, 1940): $11,100
- Pinocchio Production Cel Courvoisier Setup with Key Master Production Background (Walt Disney, 1940): $7,800
- Pinocchio Production Cel Courvoisier Setup (Walt Disney, 1940): $4,800
- Pinocchio Geppetto's Bedroom Production Background (Walt Disney, 1940): $4,080
Among the most intriguing lots in the auction were 76 lots from the collection of June Foray. Known best as the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel from Rocky and Bullwinkle, Foray was a Hollywood heavyweight behind the scenes, responsible for creating the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, the Annie Awards to recognize those in the field of animation and the Hollywood chapter of the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA-Hollywood). The top lots from her collection in the auction included, but were not limited to:
- Rocky and Friends Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Cel (Jay Ward, 1959): $10,800
- Peter Pan Fred Moore Mermaid Animation Drawings, Timing Sheet, and Photos of June Foray as a Mermaid Model (Walt Disney, 1953): $2,880
- June Foray Lunch Chuck Jones Illustration (1981): $2,280
- June Foray Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame Award Group of 4 (2000): $1,200
- June Foray's Winsor McCay Award and ASIFA Caricature (1982/94): $1,140
One of the most beloved comics of all time, Peanuts, also drew considerable interest from collectors. Some of the top lots included:
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Lucy and Linus Production Cel Setup (Bill Melendez, 1966): $9,000
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Production Cel Setup on Key Master Background (Bill Melendez, 1973): $5,520
- A Boy Named Charlie Brown Production Cel (Bill Melendez, 1969): $4,920
A group of cels and concept art featuring assorted superheroes also generated strong prices in the auction, including:
- The Iron Giant Concept Art (Warner Brothers, 1999): $6,000
- The Iron Giant Concept Art (Warner Brothers, 1999): $4,080
- Super Friends Production Title Cel Setup and Master Background (Hanna-Barbera, 1973): $2,880
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.