This July 1955 issue of The Studio (“The Leading Magazine of Contemporary Art”) belonged to the Walt Disney Studio Library and was lent to three prolific animators over a four-year period.
Disney fans will recognize the magazine’s date of issue as coinciding with one of the studio’s biggest moments in its history: the opening of Disneyland. In fact, Dale Barnhart, (1918-1996) the first animator to borrow this particular copy, did so just ten days after the park’s legendary Press Preview event on July 17, 1955. Barnhart, who’d begun his career at the studio a few years prior, was at the time working primarily as a layout artist on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. He would go on to contribute to such Disney classics as One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The next name on the list is that of Fil Mottola (1915-2008), who worked as a background painter on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, as well as feature films Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and The Sword in the Stone during his twelve years at the studio. In 1961, he left to pursue an independent career as a painter and became a well-respected and highly-regarded abstract artist, whose work continues to be sold in galleries and at auction to this day.
The most impressive name on the card is Walt Stanchfield (1919-2000), a legendary artist who worked on every Disney animated feature from 1949’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad to 1986’s The Great Mouse Detective, and even continued to serve as a consultant on later films, such as Oliver and Co. and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (being cited as the man responsible for putting the “wiggle in Jessica Rabbit’s walk.”) Walt borrowed this library copy on August 12, 1959, ten years into his storied career. At the time, production would have been underway on One Hundred and One Dalmatians. A far cry from the lavish stylistic artistry found in The Studio, the film would employ a Xerox-aided transfer process, in order to eliminate the expensive and laborious step of hand-inking—the end result of which displeased the other Walt (as in, Mr. Disney) very much. In the 1970s, Stanchfield established and headed-up a studio animation training program to teach and mentor the next generation of great Disney artists (the likes of John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, Mark Henn, and Glen Keane). Many distinguished animators credit Stanchfield as a major influence, and following his death, over eight hundred pages of his lecture notes were compiled and published as a comprehensive “master class” on the art of animation.
This well-preserved copy, straight from the studio library, references the careers of three very talented individuals who contributed to the most memorable films of the Silver Age of Disney Animation, while also marking with its release one of the most exciting times the studio has ever known: the debut of its fearless leader’s ultimate passion-project…Disneyland.