Iconic Cel from Fantasia to be Offered at Bonhams & Butterfields in December

Bonhams & Butterfields, international fine arts auctioneers, presents entertainment memorabilia at auction twice yearly, the Sunday, December 9, 2007 sale to feature vintage and contemporary film and television props, animation cels, costumes and rock memorabilia in Los Angeles. Up for auction is an original cel from Fantasia, the 1940 Disney film widely considered one of the best animation features of all time.

Bonahams is pleased to announce the offering of animation art from the Estate of Vladimir Tytla, one of the great Disney animators from their classic period. The collection includes a cel, animation drawings and preliminary drawings including a celluloid of the character “Chernabog” from Fantasia. The 1940 gouache on celluloid, a close-up of Chernabog’s face from the Night on Bald Mountain sequence, is matted and framed, the 10 x 12-inch work expected to bring $600-800 at auction.

In the early 1920s, Vladimir Tytla began his animation career with Terrytoons. By 1929, he’d moved to Paris to study art along with a select group of commercial artists. He returned to the United States and was hired by the Disney Studios in the 1930s. Vladimir Tytla became adept at animating villains during his employment with the Disney Studio. His talents brought to life such characters as “Strombolli, the sinister Coachman, and the conniving “J. Worthington Foulfellow,” both from Pinocchio. The villain for whom he is most famous is the larger than life “Chernabog,” the god of evil and destruction in Fantasia. According to Bonhams & Butterfields Specialist Dana Hawkes, the model for animating this character was initially the acclaimed horror actor Bela Lugosi, hired by the Disney Studio during early phases of production. Tytla was not completely impressed with Lugosi’s interpretation of this role and asked Wilfred Jackson, a fellow animator, to act it out instead.

Tytla drew for Disney until 1943, his later years there unfulfilling – he was reported to be unhappy with the management decision to his fire his close colleague Art Babbit — a consequence of a strike held in 1941. Following his departure from Disney, Tytla was quickly hired by the firm he’d worked for two decades earlier, Terrytoons, and later, by Paramount/Famous Studios. According to Hawkes, “His legacy at Disney is exemplified by his wonderfully animated villains — evil, yes — but drawn with great attention to the nuances and the personalities of the characters. We’re pleased to have wonderful examples of Tytla’s work in the December sale.”

In 1942, Fantasia was nominated by the American Motion Picture Academy (AMPAS) for an Honorary Award during the Oscar® ceremonies. The award recognized the film’s outstanding contributions to the advancement of sound in motion pictures and for the studio’s unique achievement in the creation of a new form of visualized music. Fantasia and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) are the only animated films and the only Disney films to be listed within the “100 Greatest American Films of all time,” the highly touted ranking by the American Film Institute. The US Library of Congress considers the film “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” and its been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Additional sale highlights for the winter auction include a prop from 1964’s My Fair Lady, a readily identifiable piece related to the Sci-Fi classic Creature from the Black Lagoon, the original script that belonged to director, Michael Curtiz, from the 1942 holiday film White Christmas (est. $3/5,000) and vintage movie posters such as a one-sheet from the David O’Selznick classic Gone with The Wind (est. $10/15,000).

The illustrated auction catalog featuring December lots will be online at www.bonhams.com/us in the weeks preceding the sale and its Los Angeles previews.

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