Drawing of Mademoiselle Upanova from Fantasia


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Drawing of Mademoiselle Upanova from Fantasia


DISNEY STUDIOS. Large drawing of prima ballerina ostrich, Mademoiselle Upanova, from Fantasia. No place: [1940]. Original watercolor, sheet measures 13 by 21-1/2 inches.

Original watercolor portrait of Mlle Upanova, star of the “Morning” segment of Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours from Disney’s Fantasia.

In a rare release of authority, Walt Disney delegated the creation of Fantasia to the imaginations of his animators, insisting that they respond freely to the music and encouraging them to use whatever forms and colors fit their inspirations. The music in this case was Amilcare Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours from his opera La Gioconda. What emerged was an enjoyable tribute to poetry in motion, a burlesque, satirical parody of classical ballet divided into four parts, performed by groups of atypical, anthropomorphic dancers, including ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators. The “Morning” segment opens on a giant, sleeping ostrich, prima ballerina Mlle Upanova. After waking and stretching, she rises and gracefully pirouettes over to a chorus of other sleeping ostriches. Once also awakened, they take breakfast in the form of fruit tossed to them by Upanova, swallowing oranges, bananas, and pineapples whole, in time with the music, resulting in contrapuntal undulations down their narrow necks. This is a preliminary conceptual drawing, probably by Frank Follmer, who worked as an assistant animator at Disney Studios from 1937 to 1941 and who is generally credited with the creation of the beguiling Upanova. Faint pencil signature of approval at the right of image.

Light soiling to margins. A wonderful large rendition.

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