I count myself lucky enough to have been a kid when some of the most famous Disney animated movies were being either newly released or re-released to the big screen. DUMBO, PINOCCHIO, SLEEPING BEAUTY, LADY AND THE TRAMP, all were viewed with an awesome excitement by this guy when he was little.
One aspect of these movies acted on me in an entirely different way -- the villains of the films (and there was always a villain in some form or another) usually scared me out of my little Lee's! Two that immediately come to mind (sorry, Mom) are of the female of the species: Maleficent and Cruella De Ville (one of the most imaginative villainesses in motion picture history, if you ask me). Even Capt. Hook was a little sinister.
What topped them all, however, was the ominously evil character in the segment from 1940's FANTASIA titled, "Night on Bald Mountain". While the other episodes of the film were generally light-hearted in nature, this last part of the film was downright frightening. Paced by the eponymous score by classical composer Modest Mussorgsky, "Night on Bald Mountain" shows what happens when ghosts, witches and other malignant spirits are allowed to roam wild in the night. It could easily have doubled as a Witch's Sabbath or Walpurgis Night. Thank goodness, in the end the Angelus Bell is rung at dawn and the night creatures are forced to return to their lairs.
The great demon who lords over the cursed night is Chernabog (aka Chernobog, etc.), a name given to an obscure "black god" of Slavic legend. It is widely known that Bela Lugosi was invited to Disney Studios to pose for a series of references shots for the character of Chernabog. Not knowing this at the time, of course, the character of Chernabog nevertheless scared the wits outta me!
Following are several very rare examples of original production art that was produced for FANTASIA and were up for bid at auction.
Fantasia "Night on Bald Mountain" Concept Painting by Kay Nielsen (Walt Disney, 1940). Joe Grant recommended Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen (1886 - 1957) to Walt Disney. Walt took the advice and hired him, and Kay worked at the studio from 1937 to 1941. He was renowned at the studio for his dramatic concept art and illustration work. His work and insight was used extensively for the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment of Fantasia. It was written in John Culhane's 1983 book Walt Disney's Fantasia that "Nielsen created a virtually dynamic pattern that responded to auditory pattern of the music." Joe Grant stated, "I'd known his work from books and he was a natural. At the time we were doing Fantasia, and Bald Mountain; he was born for it." This is a rare and outstanding Kay Nielsen original concept/story painting featuring the Chernabog, with bats, skeletons, and flames, all surrounding Bald Mountain. This has to be one of the single most dramatic images of this character we have ever seen. The artwork is hand-signed by Kay Nielsen in the upper right corner. This painting is from the personal archives of Campbell Grant (1909 - 1992). Mr. Grant was a writer who worked on Story Development for the "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Ave Maria" sequences in Fantasia. This magnificent piece of artwork can be seen in the book They Drew as They Pleased - The Hidden Art of Disney's Musical Years, The 1940s Part One by Didier Ghez on pages 40 and 41. One of the most significant Disney pieces of artwork ever to be brought to market. Matted with an opening of 14" x 10" and framed with glass for an overall size of 22.75" x 19.5". Fine condition. SOLD FOR: $59,750.00.
Fantasia "Night on Bald Mountain" Evil Spirits Concept Drawing (Walt Disney, 1940). Early concept artwork of the Evil Spirits that would end up surrounding the Chernabog, from the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment. Story development for this section was done by Campbell Grant, Arthur Heinemann, and Phil Drake, while Art Direction was done by Kay Neilsen, Terral Strap, Charles Payzant, and Thor Putman. Detailed graphite and light charcoal on 12 field 5-peghole animation paper. Gruesome images of 6" and 8". Rare early development artwork from this segment. Minor handling and small tear on left border. Tape marks in top corners and pinholes. Good condition.
Fantasia Preliminary Background Art by Kay Nielsen (Walt Disney, 1940). Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen (1886 - 1957) served as art director for the "Night on Bald Mountain" section of Fantasia. His concept artwork had a profound effect on the project, and his storyboards of the Chernabog shaped this segment into one of the most dramatic pieces of animation ever produced. This is a rare Kay Nielsen original preliminary background created for "Night on Bald Mountain," drawn in pastel on 13" x 11" black paper. It includes a Key Master test cel of one of the ghostly spirits that flies up from the ground as the Chernabog rises. The reverse of the background has a white label that reads, "Concert Feature Seq. 11.0 Sketch # 280" and includes a small signature by Mr. Nielsen, with the date 10/26/39. The test cel of the purple spirit is taped to the bottom of the preliminary background. The detail on the mansion door is breathtaking. A very rare Kay Nielsen setup from the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment! Fine condition.
Fantasia "Night on Bald Mountain" Demon Concept Art (Walt Disney, 1940). Original concept artwork of one of the Demons from the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence that features the Chernabog. Demons, ghouls, ghosts, and skeletons all come alive after the Chernabog releases his fire and flames. This is graphite and charcoal on a 12 field 5-peghole animation sheet, labeled Sc 68 Seq 11, 2004 in bottom right corner. The art image takes up approximately 7" x 5". This is an extremely rare piece of concept art from this terrifying segment of the film. Other than minor handling and edge wear, the condition is Fine.
Fantasia "Night on Bald Mountain" Demons Production Cel Courvoisier Setup (Walt Disney, 1940). Extremely rare hand-inked, hand-painted production cel of the "Night on Bald Mountain" demons and flames. This is an original Courvoisier cel setup. The cel is on a Courvoisier hand-painted background. The Courvoisier WDP Stamp is in bottom right. As the Chernabog awakes, flames of red, blue, and green erupt with the demons. Very rare to find this type of "Night on Bald Mountain" artwork in a Courvoisier setup. Matted with an opening size of 4.5" x 10". Small Disney stamp on back of mat. Slight paint separation in green flames with one small paint chip. Overall Good condition.
Fantasia Chernabog and Effects Animation Drawing Group of 2 (Walt Disney, 1940). Majestic 16 field animation drawing of the Chernabog as he stands high on Bald Mountain, created in graphite with green, blue and red pencil highlights. An amazing drawing, with an image size of 8" x 8". Also with this drawing is the matching "smoke" effects drawing. The drawings are labeled 339 and C-339 for the effects. This is from the finale section of "Night on Bald Mountain." Fine condition.
Fantasia Chernabog Animation Drawing (Walt Disney, 1940). Dramatic original 16 field 5-peghole animation drawing of the Chernabog, from the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment of Fantasia. It's an amazing, highly detailed drawing done in graphite with blue and red highlights. Bill Tytla was the supervising animator for this chilling character. He stands 13" x 11" -- the drawing takes up almost the entire sheet. The detail done to his hands and fingernails is frightening and amazing at the same time! Matted with an opening of 15" x 11", framed with glass for an overall size of 22.75" x 19". Fine condition.
Fantasia Chernabog Animation Drawing (Walt Disney, 1940). Impressive original 16 field animation drawing of the Chernabog from the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence. This character was brought to life by Bill Tytla. It's an amazing image, done in graphite with red and blue highlights. The image takes up almost the entire sheet with dimension of approximately 12" x 10" The drawing is beautifully matted, with an opening of 15" x 12", and framed with Plexiglas for an overall size of 28" x 24". One of Disney's most terrifying villains of all time! Fine condition.