For Christmas I got this amazing book called The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968 and I thought for my first Masterpiece Monday of the new year I’d share one of my favourite pieces of concept art from within the book. This piece of art from Alice in Wonderland was created by David Hall, who is right next to Claire Keane on my list of favourite Disney artists. He only worked at the studio for an incredibly brief period of time, just one year in 1939, but during that time he created hundreds of completely gorgeous pieces of concept art for Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, and Peter Pan. Hall was a British artist who looked to old British illustrations and live-action period films for inspiration, creating a style that I think would have been perfect for an adaptation of such a classic literary masterpiece as Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately, by the time the film was actually made, over a decade had passed since David Hall’s time working at the studio.The fantastic art style suggested by this beautiful piece depicting Alice in the Queen’s garden was completely forgotten in favor of Mary Blair’s more modernist style.
It took Walt Disney quite a long time to develop Alice in Wonderland into a feature-length film. He was working on the idea all the way back in the 1930s, and even considered it for his first feature before choosing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs instead. While Walt really loved the idea of adapting Lewis Carroll’s book into an animated film, story problems and competition from other studios kept the film in development limbo for over a decade. During this time Disney artists experimented with a variety of styles to used to depict the tale. Early on, Walt acquired the film rights for John Tenniel Victorian illustrations, with the intention of bringing the actual illustrations to life on the screen. This idea proved technically impossible, as Tenniel’s illustrations were far too complicated and detailed to be animated. This discarded idea eventually evolved into David Hall’s style, which captured the spirit of Tenniel’s illustrations while being much easier to animate. Of course eventually the film further evolved into a style that departed greatly from the original books, but I’ve always wondered what the film would have been like if it had looked a little more like David Hall’s concept art.
So there’s a little bit about one of my favorite pieces of concept art from one of my favorite films, Alice in Wonderland. I’m so excited to share more art and information from my new book with you all in the future and if anyone is interested in getting a copy for them self you can check it out here, but be warned it is very expensive.