Cybis has produced ballet sculptures ever since the early days of the ‘modern’ studio; the earliest example (Red Shoes) was introduced in 1960. New ballerina sculptures in both limited and non-limited editions were issued through the 1980s and likely beyond. The fifteen designs are illustrated below in chronological order. Issue and closing/retired prices are indicated, when known.
Ballerina ‘Red Shoes’ was made both in decorated and in white bisque. At 10.5” high, it was produced only from 1960-1968 in both versions as an open edition; the closing prices in 1968 were $75 and $50 respectively.
Ballerina ‘On Cue’ was made only between 1963 and 1970; in the 1967 Cybis catalog the photograph of this sculpture is captioned as Pause for a Ballerina; however, in all other literature and sculpture lists it is titled Ballerina ‘On Cue’. This may have been the very rare instance of a name change or simply a creative photo caption; however, all other photo captions in the 1967 catalog do reflect the sculptures’ proper names. This sculpture was offered in both white bisque and color versions, and is 12.5” high. Interestingly, the photo of this sculpture in the Cybis in Retrospect museum catalog shows a slightly different base from the production version; it may be that the horizontal part was removed so as to create a more dramatic photograph. There are other instances where the Cybis catalog shows a sculpture placed on a wooden base even though it was never offered for sale with one. Closing prices in 1970 were $125 and $150, respectively.
Little Princess, 10” high, an open edition produced 1968-1970 at $125 for the entire run.
From the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ ballet we have The Enamored Prince Florimund and The Enchanted Princess Aurora. They were both 12” tall and were sold as separate sculptures rather than as a pair. They were made from 1973 to 1978. The 1979 Cybis catalog prefixes both names with the words “Ballet Sculpture”. Although the declared limited editions were 500 each, only 200 of each were made. Their issue (and closing) prices were $975 for Florimund and $1125 for Aurora. (This pair was likely sculpted by Harry Burger, a freelance artist who also did created the 1972 Chess Set, among other Cybis pieces.)
This pair of sculptures was once the subject of a very “high level search”, as recounted in an article appearing in the Asbury Park [NJ] Press on August 28, 1977:
Ira Jacobson, owner of Brielle China and Galleries, has received a letter of appreciation from the White House for his help in the solution of a unique problem. He participated in a search for 12 pairs of sculptures, originally created at the Cybis Porcelain Studio of Trenton, to decorate the tables at the first full White House State Dinner of the Carter Administration, June 28. Honored on the occasion were Venezuelan President and Mrs. Carlos Andres Perez. The White House had approached Cybis with their theme for the decorations, the ballet. From the Cybis ballet collection they selected the figures of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund, [the] principal roles in the classic ballet “Sleeping Beauty,” to be used as the table centerpieces. The problem was that the porcelains are from a “retired” collection, and finding private lenders was an enormous task for the White House staff. According to Jacobson, who was called on by Cybis to assist in locating the pieces, “I was delighted to be called upon to represent Cybis in America by adding my part to the White House table decor.”
Starting in 1981, Cybis introduced one new ballerina per year through almost the entire decade. They were a mix of open and limited editions.
The first of the 1980s ballerinas was Karina. She is 5” high, an open edition introduced in 1981. By 1988 her price had risen to $525, and on the current Cybis site it is shown as $695.
She was followed by Kristina in 1982, who is an open edition, 6.75” high, currently shown on the Cybis site for $795.
Cynthia, the third ballerina, made her appearance in 1983. She is 9.5” high and appears on the Cybis site for $795.
This is Clara, from The Nutcracker, an open edition standing 9” high, introduced in 1985 at $395. A Cybis retailer ad during her introduction year stated that she is the “first in a series of three memorable ballerinas” which is interesting because Cybis had just ‘finished’ introducing three supposedly-related ballerinas (Karina, Kristina, and Cynthia).
Romeo and Juliet, a completed limited edition of 300 introduced in 1985, is 14.5” high. Their introductory price was $2200, which rose to $2850 by 1988, but the final closing retail price and date are unknown.
Swanilda was an open edition, now retired, introduced in 1985 with an issue price of $450. She is the second on the aforementioned ‘series of three memorable ballerinas’. In the ballet Coppelia, where she is a major character, her name is often spelled Swanhilde.
Recital was issued in 1985 as an open edition.
Kitri was issued in 1986 as an open edition; she is 6” high and currently shown on the Cybis site at $795. This ballerina is from Don Quixote; her Spanish costume causes her to be occasionally misidentified by online sellers as named “Carmen” ….an entirely different Cybis piece that is shown in the Music and Opera post.
Prima Ballerina was issued in 1988, is 8.5” high, and is a bit unusual in two respects. Although she is a limited edition, it is a large issue size: 2500. She also seems to have ‘Trenton’ included in the signature, which is very rarely seen on Cybis pieces other than the Collectors Society issues (which this is not). She is seen on the current Cybis site at $975. The original maquette (clay prototype) was created by Lynn Klockner Brown but the finishing details were done by a different Cybis artist.
The following three ballet sculptures were issued in the late 1980s or early 1990s but the exact year is unknown at present.
Time Out is an open edition, 4.25”high, now seen on the Cybis site for $595.
Curtain Call is another large-number limited edition of 2500, at 9.5” high, currently shown at the same price as the Prima Ballerina ($975).
The ballerina overview ends with the magnificent Swan Lake’s Odette which is definitely the rarest and most expensive ballerina sculpture the Cybis studio ever produced. It was featured on the cover of the Spring 1988 issue of Collector Editions magazine. Notice that the ballerina is identical to ‘Curtain Call’ above, except for the position of her head and the decoration on the costume. I have no idea whether Curtain Call came first and was later incorporated into this sculpture, or whether Curtain Call was introduced separately after this one (more likely.) This impressive sculpture is 14” high and had a declared issue of 100 in 1988 at a price of $8750. The edition size was later reduced to only 15, and the current price on the Cybis site is $14,995.
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