How Walt Disney and the Disney Studios wove the aesthetics of French decorative arts into the fairy-tale worlds of beloved animated films, from Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast and beyond Pink castles, talking sofas, and a prince transformed into a teapot: what sounds like fantasies from Walt Disney's pioneering animations could first be found in the colorful salons of Rococo Paris.
The films produced by Disney Animation Studios represent almost a century of creativity and are deeply rooted in European storytelling and visual traditions. Exploring Walt Disney’s fascination with European art and examining the novel use of French motifs in Disney films and theme parks, this publication features 40 works of eighteenth-century European design—from tapestries and furniture to Boulle clocks and Sèvres porcelain alongside 150 film stills, drawings, and other works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Studio Library and Walt Disney Archives.
The text connects these seemingly disparate art forms through the artists’ shared dedication to craftsmanship while also highlighting references to European art in Disney films, including nods to Gothic Revival architecture in Cinderella (1950); bejeweled, medieval manuscripts in Sleeping Beauty (1959); and Rococo-inspired furnishings and objects brought to life in Beauty and the Beast (1991). This book bridges fact and fantasy by drawing remarkable new parallels between Disney’s magical creations and their artistic models.
Wolf Burchard is associate curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.