Some newly discovered (or rediscovered)* Haunted Mansion artwork has surfaced, and we're going to get out our magnifying glass. In one sense you could say that this post is devoted to a very narrow slice of Mansionalia, but in another sense you could say that it opens a window, allowing us to catch a glimpse of the creative wheels turning inside Mansion Imagineering back in 1968. In yet another sense you could say that reading this post may lead to a cure for emphysema, but if you do, you're kind of nuts.
Maquettes, or Should We Say...McCopyquettes?
We're terribly fond of bad puns and Haunted Mansion concept art around here, in case you haven't noticed. The artwork is surprisingly plentiful, often beautiful, and always intriguing because of what it reveals about the creative process. Same goes for the puns.
As we all know, between the concept sketches and the three-dimensional end product there are a great many stages, which include scale models, sometimes in several intermediate sizes. You may recall that we did a whole tour of the Haunted Mansion using nothing but pictures of its scale models. We also know that these models are peopled with figurines called maquettes, and we've seen lots of photos of those around here too over the years (yes, years; we're approaching our third blogiversary, believe it or not). We don't tend to think of maquettes as "concept art." That could be because the single most outstanding feature of the surviving Haunted Mansion maquettes is their general fidelity to the original Marc Davis sketches. They're copies.
They're delightful creations, but in cases like those above it seems reasonable to regard them as renderings of concept art rather than concept art per se. They add color and dimensionality, and often enough they add a little zing of their own, but they bring all of this to an already existing concept. Plus, I don't think Marc himself made very many maquettes, if he made any at all, and so they are indeed someone else's representation of Marc's original idea.
However, there are a few maquettes that bear little resemblance to any other known artwork. They're probably based on sketches that have since disappeared or have remained unpublished. In such cases they function for all practical purposes as the concept art itself. No one who is interested in the organist character, for instance, can afford to overlook the utterly unique maquette version, which we've pointed out before. It represents a very distinctive take on the character.
much more sinister than the artwork upon which she seems to be based.
New Sets of Old Maquettes
There is a third category: maquettes that survived and made their way into the collector's market. The very existence of these is frequently unknown to the public until the owners decide to sell them. That happened recently when five somewhat battered maquettes showed up in the catalogue for the Heritage Animation Art Auction in New York. The five were divided into two groups: two witches together and three musicians together. The musicians sold for $11,950, but the witches were not bought.
they will not be our main concern today. I want to look at the musicians.
the three is the troubadour, an unused character known to us previously only from this concept sketch:
The maquette is simply superb. (By the way, does anyone else think he looks a little like Johnny Carson?)
As for the drummer, we'll deal with him presently. It's the harpist who really piques my curiousity, because we already had a harpist maquette. Apparently they made at least two of them, and curiously enough it may be possible to discern why they made two of them; if so, this may give us an opportunity to follow Marc Davis through part of the creative process, however tentatively.
Harpists and Hairsplitting
If you compare them, the two harpists have very different personalities. What most fascinates me is the strong possibility that you can trace the two personalities to two different sketches, where the difference is far less obvious.
We have posted both of these before. The story of their relationship and the evolution of the scene is told in the Phantom Drummer of Tedworth post. The published copy of the older sketch leaves something to be desired, so I did a fresh scan and tried to sharpen it up as best I could.