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Classic Disney Art Returns to the US

Sleeping Beauty

The NY Times reports that Disney is having returned to them over 250 pieces of original classic artwork, most of it from Sleeping Beauty. These pieces had been lost for decades until four years ago, when they were found in a janitorial closet in Japan’s Chiba University. The fascinating story of their discovery is documented in the Times piece.

After restoration work, the pieces began touring Japanese museums in 2006. The artwork was also printed in this awesome exhibition catalog. Hopefully with the artwork now coming back into Disney’s hands, they’ll take the initiative of publishing an English-language version of the catalog, or better yet, combine it with the Sleeping Beauty artwork already in their archives to create the ultimate “Art of Sleeping Beauty” volume. Now there’s a book I’d love to have on my bookshelf!

  • I really hope they publish the artwork in some shape or form, that would really be a thrill.

    I second the “Art of Sleeping Beauty”. Why don’t we pressurize Disney and Chronicle Books to strike a deal?

  • Didier Ghez

    There is a mysterious upcoming The Art of Disney book announced on Amazon. I would not be surprised if this were the English version of the Japanese catalog.

  • I was lucky enough to snag a Region 2 DVD with this artwork, available from Amazon’s Japanese site:

    If you have a region-free DVD player, it’s totally worth the effort. This artwork looks absolutely gorgeous, even on a TV screen, and there’s a documentary on the story behind the art (if you don’t mind the subtitles).

  • You and me both brother. That would be an incredible art book to have. Eyvind Earle’s work just blows my mind.

  • Rhett Wickham

    I second Todd’s recommendation. The DVD is available in Blue-Ray format, as well. In addition to the terrific portfolio of works that can be stepped through, the disc is a solid documentary of the restoration of the artwork and the exhibition, and there are English language tracks for non-Japanese speaking viewers.

    One side note, I had to laugh when the Times article quoted Ms. Smith as saying that the artwork had virtually no commercial value when it was discovered, due to damage. The cost of good archival restoration relative to the value of these works in almost any condition, short of irreversible damage from fire or parasites, was minimal, at best. As much as both parties do not want this considered a “sale”, the $1 Million dollar donation isn’t exactly an “if lost, please call” reward. Chiba University should be pleased with their “gift”, but it hardly equals the true commercial value of the collection, moldy or not.

  • droosan

    The museum art exhibition DVD which Todd Jacobsen refers to above is also available on Blu-Ray:

    Each piece from the exhibition is featured in full-screen 1080p resolution. The disc also has a documentary of the exhibition, in japanese language only (which is odd, because the DVD has an english subtitle option available for the same documentary).

    Happily, the U.S. and Japan are both in Blu-Ray ‘region-1’ .. so, japanese blu-ray discs will play in PS3’s or Blu-Ray players sold in the states, with no modifications needed.

  • K.Borcz

    Oh I hope they do release an art book for Sleeping Beauty. It’s the first Disney movie I saw and still one of my favorites. I LOVE the artwork.

  • Jon Garaizar

    what a story, i can’t belive no one found all this for 50 years.
    A book would be awesome, those story boards alone would make a great book.

  • I worked for Disney back when Art Props prepared this exhibit for Tokyo. Once they shipped it off, I don’t think anyone remembered to request that the art be shipped back.

    There was so much turmoil in the studio after “Sleeping Beauty,” maybe they just wanted to forget the whole thing.

    Apparently, they did.


    Not being in touch with anyone in the animation business, I was lucky to win “The Art of Disney” book on ebay last year (oh boy, was it expensive!). I also got the very good japanese DVD. Of course, I’d be glad if Disney published a comprehensive “Art of Sleeping Beauty” book, but I’d much rather like a real” making of” book, explaining in detail the numerous tensions in the making of the movie, but also, for example, the presence of a number of young people newly hired, all of which has been hinted at in some animation books (Barrier’s and Canemaker’s), Eyvind Earle’ book and web articles by Floyd Norman.
    As I doubt it will ever happen, I might have to write it, but I don’t see that happening before I reach retirement age, which leads us roughly to 2035-2040, unfortunately…