• Apr 25,2022
  • In Review
  • By Abundant Art

Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts – Wallace Collection Review

In collaboration with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wallace Collection presents the magic of Disney. When it comes to Disney the keywords that strike in our minds are castles, fantasy, and a magical wonderland. People come to Disney to experience dreams. Walt Disney constructs a world that sparks our imagination and takes us on a journey away from reality.

This exhibition brings the magical wonderland in close proximity to the audience. It revolves around the creative process of the stories of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. In addition to manuscripts, exquisite collections of objects used in these stories like sofas, clocks and porcelain can be seen. Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts displays American 20th-century hand-drawn animation alongside French 18th-century art to reveal the surprising and enchanting connections between these two artistic movements. It is noteworthy that the exhibition includes the painting ‘The Swing’ by Jean-Honore Fragonard, which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Rococo era and is Fragonard’s best-known work.

Drawing on the outstanding artworks of the Wallace Collection, the exhibition highlights the exceptional talent and innovation of both Walt Disney Animation Studios artists and the creative pioneers of the French 18th century. Although separated by two centuries, the artists, craftsmen and animators all had a common ambition – to breathe life, character, and charm into the inanimate.

The exhibition brings back our childhood memories with Walt Disney’s words exhibited at the entrance. This sets the mood for what the visitors are about to experience..

“We’re sure of just one thing: everybody in the world was once a child…So, when planning a new picture, we don’t think of grownups and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot, down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our pictures can help recall.” 

‘Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts’ runs at the Wallace Collection from 6 April to 16 October 2022. Tickets are available here:


Photo: ‘Beauty and the Beast’, 1991, Peter J. Hall, Concept art, watercolour, marker, and graphite on paper © Disney

Reviewed by Jiajing Yang. Yang is a MA Documentary-Fiction student at UCL and a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. Yang has written several different articles on the WeChat platform and Zhihu website, mostly about film and literature, and she has published a romantic novel based on ancient China.

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