How Walt Disney fell in love with French luxury

Words by
Lee Cassanell

9th March 2022

Discover the Gallic Flair behind Disney’s greatest animated classics.

The Wallace Collection – in collaboration with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art – will present ‘Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts’ from the 6th April -16th October.

On display will be 20th century hand-drawn animation alongside French 18th-century art, revealing the “surprising and enchanting connections between these two artistic movements.”

Walt Disney himself had a personal fascination with France and French culture, and the exhibition will focus on how Disney Animators were inspired by the art of 18th century France.  

The collection will feature over 120 examples from Disney’s research library and archive alongside 30 French artworks. These include Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s painting, ‘The Swing’, which provided inspiration for several beloved Disney films including Beauty and the Beast, Tangled and Frozen. .

Director of the Wallace Collection, Dr Xavier Bray, said: “As well as providing a chance to examine Walt Disney Animation Studios artworks close up and to admire the complexities of hand-drawn animation, the exhibition also draws attention to the Wallace’s unrivalled collection of French decorative art. We are fortunate to have one of the finest collections of 18th-century artworks in the world and we are thrilled to be bringing it to life for new audiences, in a manner that the original geniuses of the French 18th century, Boulle, Meissonnier, Duplessis and Caffieri, envisaged three hundred years ago.’

Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts is at Wallace Collection, 6 April-16 October 2022.