Europe and the Americas

Courvoisier Setup Cel, The Practical Pig, 1939

In 1937, Walt Disney released the film industry’s first full length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Conceived in 1934, Disney’s first estimated costs for the feature film was $250,000, but the production, which required more than 500,000 original drawings and production cels, greatly exceeded the initial budget and by the time it finally was released at a cost of just under $1.5 Million, Disney was forced to put up his house as collateral to fund the enormous project.

At the time, most production cels, which were clear celluloid sheets placed against an original production drawing, were traced and then painted on the back with color.  Each cel was then placed against a hand painted background scene and photographed.  The film speed of 18 frames per second required almost 90,000 photographed cels for the 83 minute long movie.

Snow White and the Seven Dwqrfs is still considered among the greatest animation films of all time and is, in today’s money, among the top ten grossing films of all time, so Walt got to keep his house.

Generally, production cels were destroyed or reused, so most of the artwork was lost, but in 1938, San Francisco art dealer Guthrie Courvoisier, who envisioned selling them to the general public, contacted Walt and reached an agreement.  Twenty artists employed by Disney were “lent” to Courvoisier to create what became known as Courvoisier Set Ups from Disney films.  The artists would take the cels and create a scene with hand painted or airbrushed backgrounds and thousands were sold, priced between $5 and $50.

Beginning with Snow White, Disney provided cels from numerous earlier shorts from Silly Symphonies.  In 1940,  Fantasia and Pinocchio were added to the Courvoisier cels, but after analysis costs, Walt took back the 20 workers. By the time WWII broke out, Courvoisier’s  had already sold thousands of cels, but celluloid became a wartime commodity and production soon stopped.  The studio was finally closed in 1942, but to this day, original Courvoisier Cels remain the pinnacle of animation art and, due to the natural deterioration of celluloid, are becoming more scarce every year.

In its original frame bearing the Courvoisier label on the back and pencil inscription reading “From The Practical Pig” on the matte under the left bottom corner of the image, this large and very significant Courvoisier Set Up is from cels used in the 1939 release of The Practical Pig, the fourth and final Silly Symphonies production that featured Three Little Pigs.  The beautiful airbrushed and painted background of Practical’s house is a masterfully done work of animation art.   Standing on his porch in front of his red door, Practical’s face shows the shock from a letter bearing bad news he has just received from the messenger boy, who bends down and tries to coax Practical into mail bag, before Practical recognizes who is in disguise and then things turn around.  Minor warping along the exterior of the celluloid, but in otherwise excellent condition.  Never removed from frame.

Copyright 1938 Walt Disney Productions

Sight       11,4 x 8.6 inches

Framed   18.5 x 17 inches



Nina Diaz, Willem deKooning’s Girlfriend.

1926 was a remarkably important year.

In the entertainment world, Norma Jeane Mortensen, who later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe was born and “The Son of the Sheik”, Rudolph Valentina’s last movie debuted just before he died at age 31.

In sports, Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel and the St. Louis Cardinals won their first of 11 World Series Championships by beating the New York Yankees in 7 games.

And in the world of art, 22 year-old Willem DeKooning ( 1904 – 1997) was a stowaway aboard a British freighter from his hometown of Rotterdam, Netherlands to America, bringing a dream of adventure, fast women, movie stars, and a chance to become a commercial artist. Never could the man who left school at age 12 imagine one of his future paintings, Interchange -created in 1955, would eventually sell for $300 million, the most money ever paid for a work of art.

After landing in Newport News, VA, he worked his way to New Jersey and then to New York, where he arrived early the following year. Shortly thereafter, he met a vaudeville entertainer Virginia “Nina” Diaz, who became his first American girlfriend and moved into a small studio with him on West Forty-forth Street. He worked wherever he found work, as a carpenter, house painter, and commercial artist, for which he’d apprenticed for back in Rotterdam.

In his spare time, he painted, but rarely kept any of his early works, repainting over most, since he couldn’t afford new canvases. About the same time, he went to an exhibition of paintings by Henri Matisse at The Pierre Matisse Gallery, Matisse’s youngest son’s gallery of contemporary and modern art in Manhattan. DeKooning was so inspired by Matisse’s vibrant colors, especially cobalt-violet, he immediately went to a hardware store and purchased a tube of violet oil paint to experiment.

His romantic relationship with Nina lasted until 1935, but was rekindled repeatedly over next the next few years.

In 1938, DeKooning met his future wife, Elaine, who became a recognized artist on her own and was, ironically, already a friend of Nina. By this time, Willem, along with Jackson Pollock, were the recognized leaders of the Abstract Impressionism Movement in New York, which, partially due to the political situation in Europecent , quietly supplanted Paris as the new center for art in the world.

This painting was acquired from the estate of Elaine DeKooning. It is a portrait of a woman wearing a hat, reminiscent of the style of the 20’s. The portrait, itself, has an overall look and feel similar to some of Matisse’s portraits from 1915 -1920. The hat is cropped off at the top. Vibrant colors are used, including violet blue on the inside of the collar. Pencil lines are visible through the paint. And the painting is very dimensionally flat.

Numerous paper stickers applied at different times in both pencil and ink refer to the subject as, “Nina Diaz, Bill’s first American girlfriend”. All are affixed to the frame on the back. One is marked “By: ?” That is scratched over and marked “self?” in pencil. The stretcher is marked “Collection of Elaine DeKooning”

Bill and Elaine never divorced and she died in 1989. I spoke with an important sculptor friend of theirs who lived with Elaine several times in the 50s, Anita Huffington. When I asked for her thoughts on the painting’s artist, she relied, “What woman would keep a painting of her husband’s first girlfriend for more than 50 years? I will tell you this, though, Elaine never got rid of anything Bill did.”

So, who did it? Bill? Elaine? Nina? Perhaps we’ll never know, but at least it is a remarkable story and interesting mystery.

Pre-Colombian Mantel, Siguas Culture, 2nd-7th Century AD

Long before the Inka civilization, some 11,500 years before, plant fibers were woven to produce basketry by indigenous people of Peru. Weaving of fabrics using wool from camelids, Alpaca, Vicuna and Llama, and cotton dates back more than 5000 years.

Techniques employed by the ancient cultures exhibited almost all of the known types of weavings and were considered more important to the ancient Andean peoples than was silver or gold. Wealth wasSisuas Culture  2nd-7th Century A.D. shown in the numbers of textiles owned by the ruling classes. Vibrant natural colors derived from insects, plants, and soils, produced stunning abstractions representing religious and cultural beliefs.

Because of the dry arid conditions along the coast of Peru, many textiles used to wrap mummies have survived for up to 3000 years, from the Paracas culture (800 BC to 100 BC) right through the Inka Empire (1438 -1533).

The better known cultures that developed before the Inka included the Nazca (famous for the enormous Nazca Lines that cover miles of the desert representing birds, animals, dieties, and geometric images that are only visible from above), the Chavin (that lived at the same time as Paracas), Moche, Chimu, Chincha, and Lambayeque.

All of them had unique styles and all of them preserved their dead through mummification, heavily wrapped, sometimes with hundreds of textiles to represent their significance.

Tremendous research over the last century has unfolded numerous mysteries about the ancient Peruvian cultures and sub cultures and many more have been recently discovered.

Several years ago, I happened upon a small collection of what was assumed to be Pre-Colombian textiles. . There were some very long woven straps with geometric designs in shades of brown, red, and gold, what appears to be a headband, and a large piece of material that was formed from 25 different long straps. After 2 plus hours in the Amano Museum of Textiles in Lima, I realized the big piece is called a mantle, or shawl and was a common textile used to wrap mummies.

Upon returning home, I sent images of my pieces to the Amano Museum and was beyond pleasantly surprised to learn my textiles are from the Siguas culture, which spanned almost 1200 years and was located in Southern Peru, in the Arequipa Valley, near Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world (12,507 feet) and also the largest lake in South America. The Siguas culture was only discovered in the late 1980’s and was obviously closely tied to the Nazca. There were three periods of the Siguas and mine are most likely the last, which was from about 100 AD to 700 AD, so my textiles are at least 1300 years old. The condition is beyond remarkable, with fresh colors and almost no deterioration. Numerous animals, birds, symbols, people, and designs are incorporated into this luscious, precious item.

The Amano Museum has one example of multiple straps sewn together to form a tunic, but mine was obviously made from a collection of straps to create a mantle.

Mantle, Camelid fibers
Natural Dyes
Siguas culture, Nazca Region,
100-700 AD
62 inches by 51 inches.

Marilyn Monroe Photograph by Frank Powolny, 1952


In 1946, by age 20, Norma Jeane Baker, who began modeling after being discovered in an airplane factory during WWII, had already appeared on 33 magazine covers. This lead to an opportunity for a screen test at Twentieth-Century Fox that resulted in a one year contract, upon which she signed her new name for the first time, Marilyn Monroe.
Her contract was not renewed, but she signed a new contract with Columbia that produced no roles or parts until she had an affair with Johnny Hyde, Executive Vice President of the William Morris Agency. A cameo appearance in Love Happy, a Marx Brothers comedy, was followed by bit parts in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, but Hyde died in 1950, effectively ending her relationship with Columbia. She went to Famous Artists who got her a 7-year contract, once again, with Fox.
By the end of 1951, her popularity has exploded and more than 2000 fan letters per week were pouring into the studios resulting in her being awarded the starring roles in two movies, Don’t Bother To Knock and Monkey Business that were both released in 1952.
It was during Monkey Business photographer Frank Powolny did a publicity shoot of Marilyn. This sepia-toned photograph is from that shoot and is one of the most iconic images of Marilyn Monroe ever produced. It is not known how many of this photo were sent to fans, but so many that most were not actually signed by her, but by her assistants or studio secretaries. This one was sent to Dorothy Hashimoto-Akari of San Jose, CA. and is signed,
To Dorothy
Warmest Regards
Marilyn Monroe
The same image, in a very similar hand, was signed by Marilyn and sent to Joe Dimaggio.
Did the most iconic Hollywood legend personally sign this one, or is it like most, signed with a Secretarial Signature? Probably the later. C. 1952
10 x 8 inches
25.40 x 20.43 cm


Chuck Jones’ Last Chance Saloon



Growing up in the 50s and 60s, everyone knew what Saturday mornings meant – no school and plenty off cartoons on TV.

From the studios of Walt Disney, Mickey (created by Ub Iwerks) and all of his friends sprang to life.

Paul Terry, of Terrytoon fame, brought us Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle, and Max Fleisher fashioned Popeye from Elzie Crisler Segar’s comic strip character and Betty Boop from Baby Esther Jones, a Roaring 20’s black singer who performed at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem.

Everyone loved Jay Ward’s best friends, Rocky and Bullwinkle, William Hannah and Joseph Barbera, of Hannah-Barbera fame, introduced us to Bedrock, home of the Flintstones, and The Pink Panther was formed from the mind of Fritz Freleng, but no one produced the volumes of cartoons that Warner Bros, through their animation studios Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies, produced. And no one was more important to animation than Charles Martin Jones, more commonly called Chuck.

In a career spanning almost 70 years, Chuck Jones (1912 – 2002) was the most successful director of all time, working on more than 300 films exhibiting his brilliance. Three of eight nominations for Academy Awards rewarded him with Oscars. From 1933 until 1963, he collaborated with Fritz Freleng and Tex Avery at Warner Brothers’ Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies to help create Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck. And he singularly created dozens of characters, most notably Wile E. Coyote, The Roadrunner,.Pepe Le Pew, Michigan J. Frog, and Marvin Martian. In 1966, he directed the TV special, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

This hand painted limited edition cel, features a card game in the Last Chance Saloon, a popular name of a bar type from the 19th century to advise potential customers alcohol was not prohibited, where Bugs Bunny, wearing an innocent face, holds five aces behind his bank and almost all the chips on the table. His girlfriend, Lola Bunny, stands on her tiptoes to get a better view of Bugs’ stack of chips, while Elmer Fudd, Marvin Martian, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck glare at him. In the corner, Pepe Le Pew literally bangs the keys off the piano. Through the window, Wile E. Coyote can be seen, hopelessly chasing The Roadrunner, who shouts the only sound he ever emits, “Beep Beep!!”

That’s All Folks!!

13.5 x 16.5 inches unframed, 20 x 23 inches framed.



Walasse Ting, LIthograph, Good Morning 25

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Walasse Ting (1929 – 2010), was a self taught Chinese born artist who spent 6 years studying in Paris where he developed relationships with members of the short-lived (1948 – 1951), but very influential Avant-garde art movement known as CoBrA, which was an acronym for Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, where most of the founding members originated. This lithograph on Arches Paper, titled Good Morning 25, measures 35 x 26 inches, and is from a series of prints created in 1974 as an homage to his friend Sam Francis, a member of CoBrA.
46 x 26 inches
88,9 x 66.04 cm

Diego Rivera, Lithograph, Los abusos de los conquistadores, 1931


Image may contain: 1 person, drawing

The reintroduction of fresco painting into modern art and architecture helped establish Diego Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estasnislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acost y Rodriguez, better known as Diego Rivera (1886-1957), as the most important Mexican artist of the 20th century.
After studies at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City from 1898 to 1907, he moved to Europe, where after a short stay in Madrid, moved to Paris to join the growing list of artists in the School of Paris. After experimenting with the newly formed Cubism movement, he rather embraced the Post-Impressionism movement of simple forms and patches of color reflected by Paul Cezanne’s work.
His travels to Italy in 1920 allowed him to study Renaissance frescoes, which quickly became his preferred medium and propelled him to become the leader of Mexico’s Muralist Movement between 1922 and 1930. In September of 1930, he accepted a lcommission to paint a mural for the City Club of San Francisco and a fresco for the California School of Fine Art (later relocated to San Francisco Art Institute).
In 1931, he accepted an assignment to illustrate a book called Mexico: a study of two America’s, by Stuart Chase. This lithograph from an illustration in that book, titled “Los abusos de los conquistadores”, was a recurring theme in his murals. Being a lifelong atheist and a Communist, he frequently portrayed the exploiters and the exploited along with Catholic priests in the same murals.
According to Sotheby’s Latin American Art Department, this high quality lithograph on the same rice paper Diego used, was printed by Galeria Misrachi during Rivera’s life and marketed among “the Frida Kahlo Collection”.  The original is located in the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City.  

19 x 12.5 inches

48.26 x 31.75 cm


Animation Drawing, Mickey Mouse from Mickey’s Mellerdrammer, c. 1933

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In 1852, the harsh and cruel slave trade of America was attacked by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe in her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was the world’s best selling novel (other than The Bible) in the 19th century.

In its first year of publication, more than one million copies were sold in Great Britain alone and countless plays followed in the ensuing years. It is believed anti-slavery sentiment generated by the book in the 1850’s was a major contributing factor in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

In 1928, Ub Iwerks corroborated with his friend, Walt Disney, to create an anthropomorphic mouse, replacing Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an animated character he’d created, but who’s publishing rights were owned by Universal Pictures. Their success with Steamboat Willie (1928), one of the first animated films with sound, launched the career of the most recognizable animated character in the world, Mickey Mouse.

By 1933, Disney had produced numerous cartoons and had already been awarded two Academy Awards for his works, including The Three Little Pigs (1933), considered the most successful short animation of all time. Disney’s vision used emotionally charged stories to interest his audiences and led to the production and release of Mickey’s Mellerdrammer (1933), an 8 minute cartoon based on Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in which Mickey and his barnyard friends recreate an early minstrel show, wearing face black to stereotype their characters.

In the opening scene, Clarabelle Cow is seen applying lantern soot to her face and leaving the area around her mouth untouched, creating large white lips. Meanwhile Mickey, to apply his makeup, puts a firecracker in his mouth and lights it.
When it explodes, the ashes paint his face black and leave a large area around his lips white.

This series of six original animation drawings in pencil for Walt Disney’s Mickey’s Mellerdrammer (1933), show Mickey using firecrackers to blacken his face for his character in the production. Each of these drawings would have been traced through a celluloid sheet and then painted before being photographed and used in the movie. Walt considered the animation drawings to be the true art of animation and all other aspects of the production to be merely crafts.

Original animation drawings, Walt Disney Studios, c. 1933

Framed images 16.75 x 33.75 inches

42.54 x 85.73 cm


6-Tile Mural, Delphic Sibyl from Sistine Chapel Ceiling

6-Tile Delphic Sibyl Mural from Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo.  Each tile is 12 inches square, making the mural 36 inches high by 24 inches wide.  1st half 20th century.

36 x 24 inches

91.44 x 60.96


Delphic Sibyl Within the Sistine Chapel Ceiling

by Lauren Mitchell Reuhring

The Delphic Sibyl (1508-12) by Michelangelo is the most beautiful and youthful of the five sibyls depicted on the Sistine ceiling. The female sibyls were seers from antiquity who were thought to have predicted the coming of Christ, and this sibyl appears startled as she turns her head away from her prophetic scroll and gazes into the future.

The Delphic Sibyl was the voice of Apollo, the greek god of music, poetry, prophecy, and medicine, and it has been suggested that the four colors in her garments represent Earth, Water, Fire, and Air — the basic elements of life.

6-Tile Mural, Libyan Sibyl from Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), universally known simply as Michelangelo, was arguably the greatest artist of all time. His sculpture of David is probably the most famous sculpture in the world and his frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are possibly man’s greatest achievement in the history of painting.

Despite his distaste for painting (he was a sculptor and considered painting to be less serious), he reluctantly accepted the commission of this arduous project from Pope Julius II in 1508. Painted between 1508 and 1512, the Sistine Chapel ceiling features 343 figures within more than 5000 square feet of painted ceiling.

Contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo did not paint the ceiling while laying on his back. Holes were drilled into the walls above the windows in the room from which brackets were placed to support a large flat scaffold on which he stood to paint. Even so, the work was physically demanding and Michelangelo wrote this amusing sonnet describing the results.
I’ve grown a goitre by dwelling in this den–
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be–
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:

My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.

My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,

By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;

For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succour my dead pictures and my fame;
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

This six-tile mural from the first half of the 20th century, depicts
Michelangelo’s magnificent Libyan Sibyl, Phemonoe, the daughter of Zeus and Poseidon’s daughter, Lamia. Phemonoe foretold the “coming of the day when that which is hidden shall be revealed”.

Each of the 6 tiles are 12″ x 12″, with the full image 36″ x 24″.  1st half, 20th century

I have also added a link to view the full ceiling.…/07/CAPPELLA_SISTINA_Ceiling.…

36 x 24 inches

91.44 x 60.96 cm


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