Disney Vintage

Born: Chicago, USA (1901)
Education: Chicago Academy of Fine Arts
Awards: 22 Academy Awards, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal
“Animation offers a medium of storytelling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world.”

Curated by one of the longest-operating and most reputable vintage animation art dealers in the world, our Disney Vintage collection boasts original works from the films that made history.


Since Steamboat Willie premiered at New York’s Colony Theatre in 1928, the imagination of Disney has enthralled audiences across the globe. Breaking new ground for Hollywood – including the first animated film with a synchronised soundtrack – Walt Disney created a whole new world of magic.

From original drawings to animation cels, hand-painted original backgrounds, model sheets and storyboards, our exclusive collection features the very best of Disney art. In a digital age, it is a rare insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of classic films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was the world’s first full-length cel animated feature film and won an honorary Academy Award. Further titles include Cinderella (1950) and The Jungle Book (1967), which also included the genius of Walt Disney’s personal involvement. Additionally, the collection includes hand-drawn imagery from more contemporary productions like The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Monsters, Inc. (2002) and Cars (2006).

Created by the artists who brought characters including Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan and Pinocchio to life, many feature hand-written production notes, timing charts, production numbers and visible drawing alterations. Other highlights include gold seal Art Corner setups originally sold at Disneyland, as well as original works from Courvoisier Gallery (1938-46), which was Disney’s first fine art endeavour.

Making the pieces rarer still is the exceptional quality of the selection. Only the most desirable illustrations are chosen; all of the characters have wonderful expressions and are often presented in iconic and immediately recognisable scenes with other characters. The collection is curated by world-renowned art dealer Ari Goldman, who has sold art to the Disney Animation Research Library and advised Christie’s and Sotheby’s. He adds: “These original works are part of the very DNA responsible for the magic of Disney’s global appeal. To me, it is amongst the most inexpensive and under-priced fine art available.”

For more information on the different types of art, head over to our From the Studio page.

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Inside the world of Disney

It may seem hard to believe now, but when Disney first began making feature-length films in 1937, each movement had to be captured by an individual animation drawing and corresponding cel. When you consider that each frame represents 1/24th of a second on screen, this was no mean feat.

While recent live-action films like The Lion King are produced digitally, when Disney created its iconic movies, hundreds of animators worked together in one building to create the illusion of life through hand-painted cels. Here, we take you through some of their tools.

Animation cel

Short for ‘celluloid’, a cel is a transparent sheet which is painted or drawn onto. Laid over a static background, cels feature a black outline on the front and colours on the back to ensure colour separation and definition. Advancements in computer-generated imagery (CGI) have rendered cels archaic, with Disney abandoning the method in 1990.

Model sheet

Used to ensure continuity between the many artists who collaborated on an individual film, model sheets – also known as character boards – standardise the appearance and poses of characters. As ‘blueprints’, they depict the character’s head and body at different angles, basic facial expressions and detailed guidelines for their hands and feet.


A storyboard is a series of sketches which helps filmmakers to visualise a plot sequence by mapping out the story. Identifying inconsistencies or chances for further development, the method is a useful tool for previewing a film before the cameras start rolling. The concept is credited to the animator Webb Smith, who developed the idea at the Walt Disney Studio in the early 1930s. Storyboarding is still used in production today for both animated and live-action feature films.

Animation drawing

Animation drawings are accomplished in pencil on paper and are the first step in the final creation of characters. Each drawing will be traced onto the animation cel to form the black outline before it is filled with colour and photographed. Photographs of the cels are then run through the movie cameras, creating the illusion of life.

Courvoisier setup

Courvoisier setups were created between 1938 and 1946 in San Francisco and featured production backgrounds to complement the original animation cels. These included detailed watercolour backgrounds created by the Disney background department and the use of new airbrushing techniques. 

“I hope we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Walt Disney

From the blog

Give the unique gift of art this Christmas - our expert gift guide for children!

Give the unique gift of art this Christmas with our carefully curated selection of original and limited edition artworks for that special child on your shopping list - it's never too soon to get them to appreciate art!

Original art from unforgettable Disney movies

Join us on magical journey with a special selection of Disney Vintage art, including cels and model sheets from films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Cinderella. There is currently an exhibition of Disney artwork, celebrating the studio's 100th anniversary, at our Birmingham ICC gallery.

Magazines and brochures

Fine Art Collector | Spring 2021

Showcasing the very best of our artworks, along with behind-the-scenes updates and interviews, the new issue of our Fine Art Collector magazine is a must-read!

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© Copyright Washington Green Retail Limited trading as Castle Fine Art. First published 2012, last updated 2023. Washington Green Retail Limited acts as a credit broker and offers credit products from Secure Trust Bank PLC trading as V12 Retail Finance.

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