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Disney Animation Art

The Walt Disney Company revolutionized the world of animation in the 20th century, not only producing cherished animated films but also pioneering the preservation, archival, and reproduction of its company’s works.

In 1923, animator Walt Disney and his businessman brother Roy Disney founded the Walt Disney Company, originally called the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. After creating a number of successful Mickey Mouse short films, the company produced the world’s first fully animated feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” followed by nearly 30 more using traditional animation techniques. After 1989, studio crews adopted computer animation almost exclusively, and the last film Disney produced using hand-inked and hand-painted production celluloid (cels) was “The Little Mermaid.”

For vintage Disney art collectors, original production cels are becoming rare and highly collectible, particularly anything produced from the 1920s through the 1950s. Also revered are original backgrounds, drawings, concept sketches, and storyboards. Any pieces signed by a Disney artist or Walt Disney himself will hold high values.

Aside from original production art, Disney has produced and marketed a variety of limited-edition prints, including hand-painted cels, lithographs, and sericels. Although these pieces are not considered vintage, some have recorded high earnings in the art marketplace.


Quick Facts

  • Disney’s Animation Research Library (ARL) holds 65 million pieces of animation artwork; over 200,000 of these are original production cels. The library is open to employees and designated members of the press, and its exact location is not publicly disclosed
  • Walt Disney jokingly called his group of supervisory animators the “Nine Old Men.” These individuals assisted Disney in creating and producing films from the 1960s through the 1970s
  • Heritage Auctions held a record-breaking animation art auction in April 2015. Several top-sellers included production cels from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” ($47,800), “Pinocchio” ($23,900) and “The Little Mermaid” ($15,535)

Recommended Items at Auction

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1934 BILL THOMPSON WALT DISNEY INSCRIBED PHOTOGRAPH
Oct 24, 10:00 AM MST
1934 BILL THOMPSON WALT DISNEY INSCRIBED PHOTOGRAPH
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$12213 Bids
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1932 FRANK MURPHY DISNEY 7 DWARVES INSCRIBED DRAWING
Oct 24, 10:00 AM MST
1932 FRANK MURPHY DISNEY 7 DWARVES INSCRIBED DRAWING
by Bradford's
Est: $0- $0
$16410 Bids
Walt Disney "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" Animation Cel
Nov 08, 6:00 PM EST
Walt Disney "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" Animation Cel
by Antiques & Art International
Est: $200- $500
$1753 Bids
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"Mickey's Service Station" 1935 Storyboard Sketch, A Squeaky Flat Tire!
Nov 10, 10:30 AM EST
"Mickey's Service Station" 1935 Storyboard Sketch, A Squeaky Flat Tire!
by University Archives
Est: $300- $400
$1202 Bids
Disney Cel, SNOW WHITE * Happy the Dwarf * Courvoisier * 1937
Oct 28, 11:00 AM PDT
Disney Cel, SNOW WHITE * Happy the Dwarf * Courvoisier * 1937
by PBA Galleries Auctions & Appraisers
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0001 Bid
HAROLD GAZE, NYMPH WITH FAIRIES, WATERCOLOR
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
HAROLD GAZE, NYMPH WITH FAIRIES, WATERCOLOR
by Everard Auctions and Appraisals
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,2001 Bid
Disneys Chip and Dale Limited Edition Sericel
Nov 07, 10:00 AM EDT
Disneys Chip and Dale Limited Edition Sericel
by Paul Arsenault Auctioneers
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Disney - Donald Duck Roller Skating
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Disney - Donald Duck Roller Skating
by Dane Fine Art Auctions
Est: $400- $500
$1500 Bids
Disney - Donald Duck Roller Skating
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Disney - Donald Duck Roller Skating
by Dane Fine Art Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$700 Bids
Jack Martin Smith (CA,1911-1993) acrylic painting
Nov 14, 11:45 AM EST
Jack Martin Smith (CA,1911-1993) acrylic painting
by Broward Auction Gallery
Est: $340- $425
$1900 Bids
WAYNE THIBAUD (American, b. 1920)
Oct 24, 11:00 AM EDT
WAYNE THIBAUD (American, b. 1920)
by CRN Auctions
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$1,5000 Bids
HAROLD GAZE, SEASHORE SCENE, WATERCOLOR, PEN AND INK
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
HAROLD GAZE, SEASHORE SCENE, WATERCOLOR, PEN AND INK
by Everard Auctions and Appraisals
Est: $1,200- $1,800
$8000 Bids
Large Alexander Kosolapov Painting
Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
Large Alexander Kosolapov Painting
by Palm Beach Modern Auctions
Est: $15,000- $20,000
$8,0000 Bids
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Salvador Dalí (1904-1989, Spanish)
Nov 09, 10:00 AM PST
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989, Spanish)
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $5,000- $7,000
$2,5000 Bids
ALICE IN WONDERLAND BRITISH 30x40 ON LINEN
Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
ALICE IN WONDERLAND BRITISH 30x40 ON LINEN
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $800- $1,000
$4000 Bids
Peanuts, "Family" Hand Numbered Limited Edition 3D Decoupage with Certificate of Authenticity.
Oct 24, 10:00 AM PDT
Peanuts, "Family" Hand Numbered Limited Edition 3D Decoupage with Certificate of Authenticity.
by Robinhood Auctions
Est: $2,438- $3,048
$4500 Bids
Disney Animation Cel - Prince John from Robin Hood
Nov 14, 10:00 AM PST
Disney Animation Cel - Prince John from Robin Hood
by Taylor & Harris
Est: $1,200- $1,500
$9000 Bids
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Fred MacMurray & Dick Powell Inscribed Photos (2) [131744]
Oct 28, 8:00 AM PDT
Fred MacMurray & Dick Powell Inscribed Photos (2) [131744]
by Holabird Western Americana
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Disney Animation Art


Four Seasons Auction Gallery

Four Seasons Auction Gallery

Lux Auction

Lux Auction

Dane Fine Art Auctions

Dane Fine Art Auctions

John Moran Auctioneers

John Moran Auctioneers