First Animation Art
First Quality Art from the Animated Film!
2036 Fifth Avenue SE  
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403

Phones 319-862-1169
Toll Free 1-888-921-1001

John Cairns

Wanda Lunn
our 37th year in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa!
Please call or email to confirm availability when making your selection.
Our one of a kind art sells quickly and although we do our best to keep our website up to date,
all art is subject to previous sale.
The Disney / Courvoisier Art Program

Some of the most striking examples of animation art surviving today exist due to the forward thinking of art dealer Guthrie Sayle
Courvoisier. Courvoisier was the first person to build a mass market for original artwork created by the Walt Disney Studios for use
in their animated classics.

Quick to recognize the phenomenon developing around the merchandising of the films of Walt Disney, Guthrie saw an opportunity for
the Courvoisier Galleries to do for Snow White what Ingersoll watches had done for Mickey Mouse. Throughout the early part of
1938 Courvoisier entered into dialogues with Walt Disney and his brother Roy detailing his idea to market the production-art created
for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" as original works of fine art. Guthrie believed that the artwork could be as successful as the
film itself, if properly marketed.

In 1938, Courvoisier agreed with the Disney brothers granting the Courvoisier Galleries the exclusive right to market original Disney
art starting with about 7,000 cels from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". Prices varied from piece to piece but were test marketed
from $5 to $35 on up to some cels at $75. In September 1938, cel paintings consigned through Courvoisier sold rapidly when
exhibited at the Julien Levy Galleries in New York City, the Leicester Galleries in London and the Charles Sessler Galleries in
Philadelphia. Cels sold at Sessler gallery became part of the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney's Museum of
Modern Art. The favorable outcome from these early gallery sales of

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" cels proved Courvoisier could establish a fine art market for Walt Disney artwork. Three new
types of animation artwork were introduced: key animation and inbetweeners production drawings; master production watercolor
backgrounds; and story sketches used during the production of Disney films.
Besides "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", art from "Ferdinand the Bull" (1938),  "Brave Little Tailor" (1938), "Wynken, Blynken
and Nod" (1938),  "Donald's Golf Game" (1938), "The Ugly Duckling" (1939), "Donald's Penguin" (1939), "The Practical Pig"
(1939), "The Beach Picnic" (1939) and "The  Pointer" (1939) was released for sale at this time. Even some of the multi plane oil
paintings from Walt Disney's second feature "Pinocchio" (1940) soon followed.

Initially the art was matted and prepared for sale within the Disney studio. In the late 1930's Disney employed twenty people to
prepare the animation art for the Courvoisier Galleries. This Cel Setup Department was headed by Helen Nerbovig, one of the women
from the Ink-and-Paint Department.

The cels were cut down in size or individual characters were trimmed from the cel and covered with a blank cel sheet. The cel sheets
were then taped to different kinds of backgrounds: hand-painted backgrounds that resembled the production  backgrounds, airbrushed
backgrounds that merely suggested the elements of the original background, mounted wood veneer backgrounds, often containing
airbrushed  shadows, elements of the original backgrounds or the name of the particular character or backgrounds comprised of a
piece of thin, patterned wrapping paper.

These simplified background illustrations were then glued to cardboard. Each piece of art distributed through Courvoisier came with
a mat that often contained a handwritten inscription with the character's name or film title running parallel under the mats lower left
opening. A number of small labels were attached to the backside of the frame identifying the art as being from a certain production.
Some early labels also warned the owner: "This material inflammable. Handle with care. Frame under glass."

From 1940 (after the release of artwork from "Pinocchio") until September 1946 Courvoisier assumed responsibility for preparing the
art for sale and remained the sole source for the sale of Disney artwork. They continued to distribute art from numerous short subjects
and feature films. On September 30th, 1946, both the Disney's and Courvoisier agreed that Disney Productions would resume the
marketing of their art.

In recent years, a business has purchased the name "Courvoisier Gallery" and has confused the animation art market by marketing art
with new Courvoisier labels descriptions. Animation collectors should be aware of these. We only handle the art form the original art
program than ended in 1946.