Check out this huge Snow White poster

When Walt Disney’s groundbreaking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937, it was accompanied by one of the largest publicity campaigns in film history. A wide variety of posters, banners and standees were created for distribution to theaters all over the world. Many of them are highly sought after by collectors today, but none more so than the elusive 24-sheet billboard. Made from 24 sheets lithographed separately and then knitted together to form three character groupings spanning an incredible 19-and-a-half feet in width and 9’11” in height, only a few of them were ever produced and only one of them is known to survive. Behold its awesomeness:

The surviving billboard had lost its bottom left panel, but it has now been fully restored and placed on linen. It’s going up for sale at Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Movie Posters sale in Dallas on July 19th with a presale estimate of $10,000 – $20,000. That’s actually relatively modest considering that a handsome but much less rare One Sheet is being offered at the same auction with a presale estimate of $5,000 – $10,000. (A fantastic set of standees of Snow White and all Seven Dwarfs is a steal at $2,500 – $5,000, assuming they go that low.)

All of these promotional materials were the work of Swedish-American illustrator Gustaf Tenggren. The characters — Snow White, The Evil Queen, the Witch, and the Dwarfs — were designed by Albert Hurter and Joe Grant. Disney hired Tenggren, who was already well known for his Arthur Rackham-influenced fairy tale illustrations, in 1936 to create the backgrounds and give the forest and cottage an old world illustration look. He was also in charge of painting the posters and other advertising materials for the movie.

Tenggren then deployed his signature style and exceptional attention to detail in the backgrounds and settings of Pinocchio, particularly the village streets and Gepetto’s Workshop, but his tenure at Disney would be brief. His last movie was Bambi for which he painted intricate forest scenes. They were not ultimately used because they were considered ill-suited to the aesthetic of the picture. Tenggren left Disney in 1939.

In 1942 he went to work for Little Golden Books, illustrating one of the greatest of them all: the immortal The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey, which remains in print to this day and is the all-time best-selling hardcover children’s book in English. For more about Tenggren’s remarkably varied art, see Lars Emanuelsson’s World of Gustaf Tenggren website and Gustaf Tenggren blog.

7 thoughts on “Check out this huge Snow White poster

  1. Among dwarfs the five-fingered one is king. For the poster, the dwarf cartoonists were apparently under pressure: The one with glasses has 5 fingers on the central panel, while on the other panels there are dwarfs with two, three and four of them.

  2. Several members of my family are dwarfs, and they all have five fingers (at least the living ones do). Though I’ve often thought that perhaps they were descended from hobbits. I had a hard time with this movie because they got a lot of things wrong about dwarfs. But I was just a kid, with a kid’s very literal way of looking at things. To me, dwarfs weren’t cartoon characters. They were flesh and blood people. I haven’t changed my mind about that, either.

  3. Thanks for letting us know what it sold for, Bob. I was lucky enough to have the graphics business (Coast Hwy 101 Design) called to recreate the missing corner and got to see the experts restore the whole thing one piece at a time and mount it on a huge linen at their facility. I believe the story was, and of all places, all of the present panels were found in someone’s attic, tucked away for many decades! It was a rewarding endeavor and really something to watch being rescued and come back to life. So many times things get ruined by neglect, the elements or just thrown away by someone who could care less. So Kudos to whomever had the foresight to save it.

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