The Met – Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts


The Metropolitan Museum of Art kicked off 2022 with a whole new style, completely inspired by Walt Disney. They released a new exhibit, titled Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts. This was The Met’s first-ever exhibition exploring the work of Walt Disney. It displayed the hand-drawn animations of Walt Disney Animation Studios and explored Disney’s connections with European art.
Disney Studios has been taking inspiration from European art for decades.
“Disney has always done great research for their art, much of it based on historical French architecture and other European style works.” Says Ms. Knight, an Upper School art teacher.
In this new exhibition, the Met showed 60 works of European designs alongside 150 Disney production artworks from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, Walt Disney Archives, Walt Disney Imagineering Collection, and The Walt Disney Family Museum. The exhibition highlighted references to European culture in Disney animated films, including Gothic Revival architecture in Cinderella (1950), medieval influences on Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Rococo-inspired lively items in Beauty and the Beast (1991).
Some of the most prominent works include The Magic Lantern, Mary Blair’s Concept Art for Cinderella, and Cogsworth. The handmade, porcelain sculpture The Magic Lantern is meant to showcase a sense of awe and curiosity that both Disney and the Rococo era tried to instill in their audiences. This was done by “animating the inanimate,” telling a story of children speaking into a magic lantern, with a sense of excitement on their faces. Mary Blair’s Concept Art for Cinderella is able to visualize the story of Cinderella with simple and vivid shapes and colors through her own distinctive style. When Beauty and the Beast was written in 1840, Disney artists were the ones who brought the characters to life. Cogsworth is Peter J Hall’s concept sketch of the beloved clock, Cogsworth, from Beauty and the Beast, who was a Disney artist at the time. Hall based his design on a tall clock, designed by one of the great carpenters of 18th century France.
By drawing parallels between the artworks of Walt Disney Studios and historical European artists, the Met has shown a new level of singularity never seen before, as they are displaying a cross-cultural connection between the studio’s magical creations and Rococo France. If you’re visiting New York anytime soon, consider taking a trip to The Met to see this fantastic exhibit!