Disney Unveils Mickey Mouse’s 95th Birthday Portrait
In 1953, Walt Disney encouraged studio artists to depict Mickey Mouse at age 25 and submit the artwork to him as a kind of internal contest.
An oil painting by Disney Legend John Hench won the day, and the first official Mickey portrait was born.
It would be another 25 years before Mickey got another portrait done. In 1978, Hench once again painted the mouse, this time hard at work on the company’s newest project EPCOT Center.
“For Mickey’s 50th birthday portrait, I posed him in front of the original EPCOT model,” Hench explained.
“The shadow that Mickey casts over the model was essential,” Hench said. “Mickey’s shadow lets the viewer know that they are looking at a model, and not through a big picture window at a distance view of EPCOT.”
Hench Became Mickey’s Offical Portrait Painter
Over the next 25 years, Hench would create three more portraits of Mickey, celebrating his 60th, 70th and 75th birthday.
Commenting on his last portrait, Hench talked about the lasting impact of Walt’s creation.
“Walt chose to develop the art of animation and the theme parks around classic tales that appeal to all of us and transcend our differences,” he said.
52 years after Hench won the initial Mickey Mouse portrait, Disney had another competition.
This time, it was Art Director Paul Felix who was deemed the winner. Like Hearth, Felix focused on Mickey’s global reach, depicting him painting a smile on a globe.
Mickey’s New Portrait
At today’s Destination D23 convention at Walt Disney World, Disney unveiled Mickey’s newest portrait.
Titled “Swept Up Into The Magic”, the new portrait was painted by Bret Iwan.
If that name sounds familiar, it should! Bret currently serves as the official voice of Mickey!
As you can see, Irwin was clearly inspired by Mickey’s turn as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s Fantasia!
For a company celebrating its 100th anniversary, it is great to see Disney leaning into its history and keeping the tradition of the Mickey Mouse portrait alive.