tisdag 12 december 2023

A Tenggren sleeper comes public

It is not common to get to see Tenggren art from the Disney period which have not been already published. Here is a recent example. Just recently, this concept painting by Gustaf Tenggren was sold on Heritage Auctions.
The painting depicts the moment when Gepetto, swallowed by Monstro the Whale, meets Pinocchio who has come to save him. Pinocchio's tail and easel ears are revealed and Gepetto shouts "But what happened to you?". 

This painting was made on a late stage in the production. At the time, Tenggren was busy making forest studies for "Bambi", but was asked to return to the studio to make more concept art for "Pinocchio". It can be seen from the design of both characters. On an early stage in production, when Tenggren started to make concept layouts for the movie, Pinocchio and Gepetto had not yet reached their final looks. Tenggren's paintings from that time show Pinocchio as a more toy-like wooden doll, and Gepetto as a stout man. Later on, before animation was started, Pinocchio's and Gepetto's designs were altered and finalized, which is reflected here. 

The total painting is definitely made by Tenggren: his thin, exact lines in combination with the subtle watercolor rendering of the various surfaces is unmistakenly Tenggren's. Some discrepancies in the modeling of the characters feel unfamiliar with Tenggren's style, though. Tenggren was a master of drawing hands and it is unlike him to draw hands with three fingers on humans. Also, Pinocchio's stature here is more "cartoony" than Tenggren used to draw.  Still, it is a great painting and I am thankful that we can add it to the known ones. 

This painting was close to disposal – it was found on the floor and rescued by a Disney artist during the move of the studio from Hyperion Street to Burbank. As it now comes to surface for the first time, it was sold at the sum of USD 48,000, following and consolidating the prize level of the Disney related artwork of Gustaf Tenggren.