Disney artists are some of the best in the business. As we’ve seen with my post discussing The Little Mermaid, somebody at Disney is a bigger art history geek than the rest and takes the time to carefully insert huge art history Easter eggs into their films. And much to my delight, the multi-billion-dollar blockbuster Frozen doesn’t escape from this rogue art history nerd’s clutches. Frozen may even be this geek’s crowning moment.
During the “First Time in Forever” sequence, Anna enters a portrait hall in Arendelle Castle. Whilst singing about her hopes and dreams of finding love at the coronation ball, she hops around on couches and imagines herself in a number of paintings in the royal collection. WHICH TURN OUT TO BE REAL PAINTINGS. It was hard for me to control my excitement as I began my quest to figure out just which paintings are featured in the film. Luckily for me, there are a lot of Frozen-obsessed people out there on the Internet who could help me out. So here are, with a boatload of help from some Reddit users and a whole lot of Google searches, some of the famous art pieces featured in Disney’s Frozen.
“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?”—Anna tells a painting of Joan of Arc in battle to “hang in there.” Her fierceness echoes St. Joan of Arc by Sir John Gilbert, but it’s not the exact
same painting. Joan’s placement on her horse and the angle of her sword are reminiscent of the Joan of Arc statue in New Orleans.
“First Time in Forever”—Anna reenacts six of the paintings found in the portrait hall.
Fig 1.1 and 1.2–According to the lovely people of Reddit.com, Fig. 1.2 is a reinterpretation of Brueghel the Elder’s 1569 painting The Peasant Dance, Fig 1.1. Disney artists most likely reinterpreted most of these paintings to fit with the scene’s romantic themes.
2. This Rococo-esque painting (Fig. 2.2) looks most similar to Auguste Serrure’s The Picnic (Fig. 2.1), painted sometime in the mid to late 1800s, but from a different angle.
3. Fig. 3.2 looks quite similar to the work of Gerard ter Borch, especially Fig. 3.1, The Dancing Couple, c. 1660, according to Reddit.
4. Undoubtedly, Fig. 4.2 is a reinterpretation of John Singer Sargent’s El Jaleo (Fig. 4.1). Painted in 1882, note how the original contains only one dancing figure—the woman.
5. The most iconic of the paintings repurposed in Frozen, Fig. 5.1 is The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Note Disney’s tactful omission of the creeper in the bottom left corner.
6. There’s no consensus as to which one painting in the history of art this could be. Some of the Reddit art history users believe it is late Italian Renaissance, which makes sense when taking the perspective into account. However, one user noted that it also looks very much like the work of Lucas van Leyden, a Dutch genre painter active during the Renaissance, especially his 1512 painting Potiphar’s Wife Shows Joseph’s Gown to Her Husband.
After listing these, I found this extremely enlightening pin on Pinterest.
And then artist Cory Loftis’ tumblr.
Whoops. Maybe I should have looked there first. But creating my own quest to find the paintings from Frozen was pretty darn epic, if I say so myself.
Much thanks to the Reddit users on this art history thread whose obsession to find Disney’s source painting enabled mine.
Don’t see any similarities? Think a different painting looks more similar to the art in Disney? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to spread the knowledge and prove how cultured you are by sharing this post with your friends!