If you’ve managed to wade through the overview of the 1950s Cybis madonnas you’ll be relieved to know that this one contains only a baker’s dozen! All of the sculptures shown below were introduced in 1960 or later. It’s interesting to see that although the studio’s first ten years produced a veritable population explosion of madonnas, only six of the “new introductions” during the next four decades were actually brand-new designs; the others are either adaptations or re-issues of previous sculptures.
In contrast to the many 1950s madonnas with a glazed/stained glass finish, all of the post-1960 retail pieces were produced only in bisque (unglazed) porcelain. However, this cannot be used as a reliable guide to the age of an unknown piece because the studio continued to occasionally create special pieces for local churches and thus we can’t assume that absolutely none of the post-1960 Cybis madonnas were glazed. We only know that none of the retail pieces were made that way after the 1950s.
There is one particular and often-seen madonna bust (Mother Most Admirable) that was produced until 1965 but there is an additional way to “date” them other than glazing/no glazing. See the 1950s Madonnas post for details.
By 1960 the appearance of Cybis signature had fully transitioned from the original blue or blackish-grey stamp or signature to the now-traditional brown handpainted format. Also, the early 1960s marked the first appearance of the copyright symbol – either as a mold impression or handpainted – on Cybis sculptures. Its use was inconsistent during the 1960s and 1970s but became increasingly prevalent and ultimately universal by the 1980s. (see Signatures and Marks for an illustrated overview)
The prices shown here are the Cybis retail at introduction (if known), and at either retirement or as currently shown on the Cybis website which has not been updated since late 2008/early 2009. With only one exception, these were/are all open (non-limited) editions.
The Madonna with Lace Veil and flower decoration, 4.5” high, was introduced in 1960 in both plain white bisque as shown, and in color (no image at present). This piece may originally have been named ‘Madonna Bust with Lace’ for a short time. By any name it is the same 1950 Madonna that is shown in the second paragraph of the first overview, but with the addition of a wide, flat lace trim along the entire edge of the veil. This of course means that it originally was a Holland mold but as explained here, Cybis bought the rights to this mold along with several others at just about this same time. I’m sure that if Cybis hadn’t already stopped making the original 1950s glazed versions, they certainly did so before introducing this one.
The white version was made only from 1960 – 1968 and was very affordably priced at $7.50 to $10 during that span. The color version was retired much sooner; the Cybis catalog gives the run as “1960 to early 1960s” so it may have been only two or three years, priced from $10 to $15. However, a color version was later re-issued by Cybis twenty years later in a larger size (6.5” high) under the slightly different – but still confusing! – name of ‘Madonna with Lace’ which is shown at the end of this post. It’s not known whether the color(s) of the original 1960 version differed from the later replica.
The only other madonna issued during the 1960s is another source of identification confusion, courtesy of Cybis’ naming conventions and catalog editing. Most people call her the Madonna with Blue Veil but there is no madonna by that name in the 1979 catalog appendix. It is 6.5” high including the inch-thick wood base which means the actual porcelain itself is 5.5” high. Lo and behold there is indeed a 5.5” high Madonna bust listed in the catalog’s appendix, made in white bisque and also in color just as this one was. This madonna is actually the head and torso taken from the 1957 House of Gold study seen in the 1950s Madonnas post and designed by Harry Burger.
The problem with referring to this design as the “Madonna with Blue Veil” then becomes: What do you call the all-white version? “Madonna with Blue Veil in White”?? So my own very unofficial name for this piece is “the tilt-head madonna”. According to the catalog this piece had an extremely short production run of only a single year for each colorway! The color version was made from only 1968 – 1969, and then the white version only from 1969 – 1970. Retail pricing was $35 for both versions. So why do I say there’s confusion? Well, because Cybis in their infinite wisdom decided to re-issue this exact same (but by-then-retired) sculpture in 1981, from the identical size mold but without the base and in a third colorway. (cue *headdesk*)
If you think this Madonna looks familiar, you’re right: It’s a modified version of the one shown in the second group of the 1950s madonnas! Introduced as a “new” sculpture in 1972, her formerly-smooth veil has now acquired folds, as well as a narrow lace ‘under-veil’ peeking out from one side. Because of this, some collectors call her the “Madonna with Lace” which is unfortunate because that actually ended up being the retail name of an entirely different madonna bust introduced almost ten years later.
Anyway, this madonna is listed in the 1979 Cybis catalog as being 5” high, and produced only between 1972 and 1975 (price rising from $45 to $60). Considering the large number of these seen on the secondary market, it must have been a huge seller during those four years! This is actually the third incarnation/version of the original circa-1950s Holland mold design: It evolved from the original 1950 Holland/Cybis unnamed madonna to the 1960 ‘Madonna with Lace Veil (and flower)’ … and then to this Madonna in 1972. The copyright date for this design is 1971 but according to the Cybis catalog it was not released until 1972.
The 1980s saw a madonna-resurgence of sorts, beginning with Madonna ‘Queen of Peace’ which was the first new madonna design issued by the post-1950s studio. It is 7.5” high and was issued at $185 for the white bisque and $235 for the color version. This is one of the few sculptures that seem to have been fairly regularly dated by hand, in paint, along with the signature – a very nonstandard practice for Cybis. Some of them are dated 1980 and others are dated 1981. There is no difference between the examples, and I’ve never seen any that were marked with any other year. Both colorways were retired in 1982 at their issue prices.
All of the following madonnas (with one exception) are still shown on the current Cybis website at the retail prices cited. Even though the last update of their website occurred in either December 2008 or very early 2009 (depending on the actual page), Cybis has no other retail outlet and so we must assume that the prices shown are still the current ones. Unfortunately I’m still trying to rebuild my lost collection of 1980s Cybis retail price lists and so the original (introductory) prices of these pieces aren’t available at the moment; if/when I find copies, I will add that information to the descriptions.
This is probably one of the most confusing re-issues that Cybis has ever done. Introduced in 1981 under the name Madonna Angelica, this is actually the same Queen of Angels shown in the 1950s overview — – it’s the original 6.75” high mold, but now it is not mounted on a wood base. It comes in both white and color, just as the original Queen of Angels did. Priced at $295 by 1984, the Cybis site currently shows the white at $699 and the color at $799.
Misidentification can easily arise because of this absence of a wood base, because the original Queen of Angels was attached to the base only by a toggle bolt and thus it is potentially removeable. The height of both busts is exactly the same (6.75”) which is problematic unless you notice one thing: Madonna Angelica has a lace-patterned “shirt” whereas the one worn by the Queen of Angels is plain.
However, because Cybis also wanted to also continue to sell the white bisque original Queen of Angels, they now needed to differentiate that sculpture from the white Madonna Angelica by something more than just her shirt pattern. Voila! Enter the “upsized” 1980s Queen of Angels, which (just to confuse the heck out of everybody again) suddenly now came in two options: Either atop a 2” high wood base for $799 or without any base at all, for $699. The overall height of the upsized no-base version is 11” – significantly taller than the Madonna Angelica – and the with-base version is 13”. (Why the pricing of both ‘sets’ of sculptures is exactly the same is beyond me.)
So here is a handy-dandy Identification Key for this madonna design in its various iterations:
If mounted on a wood base:
Color; height 11” including base, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels, made between mid 1950s and 1970
White; height 11” including base, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels, made anytime between the mid 1950s and (probably) 1980
White; height 13” including base, shirt area is plain/smooth = later version of Queen of Angels, made 1980 or later
If without a base:
Color; height 6.75”, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels but missing its base, made between mid 1950s and 1970
Color; height 6.75”, shirt area has lace pattern = Madonna Angelica, introduced in 1981
White; height 6.75”, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels but missing its base, made between mid 1950s and (probably) 1980
White; height 6.75”, shirt area has lace pattern = Madonna Angelica, introduced in 1981
White; height 11”, shirt area is plain/smooth = later version of Queen of Angels, made 1980 or later
The third new design of this era is Madonna with Baby at 9.5” high. It appears that there were two different issues of this piece, because the 1989 “anniversary” Cybis brochure shows the photo above but with this text: “The Cybis madonna has been enhanced with a lily in her hand as reintroduced in our 50th year.” I have no photo of the (flowerless) original model, nor any information as to production years or pricing; the 1989 version began at $275 and is now $395. Only sculptures physically produced during 1989 will bear the special 50th Anniversary stamp.
Yet another 1989 Anniversary-year reissue was the late-1960s “tilt-head madonna” but this time in white with gold accents, in keeping with the theme. It was titled, again, simply Madonna (with no qualifier) and is identical to the tilt-head madonna of the late 1960s shown earlier — except for the colorway and that this version did not come on a base. Introduction price was $175 and it is shown on the current Cybis site at $185 as shown.
Another new design was the Rose Madonna, 5” high and issued in 1987 at $145. This was sculpted by Lynn Klocker Brown during the last two years that she was at the studio. The Cybis site shows it available only in color as shown, at $295 currently.
A hauntingly lovely sculpture is the Madonna with Lily from 1987. Her design was a collaborative effort of several Cybis artists, including Lynn Klockner Brown. She is 12.5” high on base and was described at that time as a limited edition of 1000, priced at $775. The Cybis website erroneously now lists it as an open (non-limited) edition but her price is $2975 which is most definitely in the limited-edition ballpark.
This sculpture is an adaptation of the Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi’s madonna portraits. Although listed in Cybis’ biblical category this does not strike me at all as a religious piece; I see her more as an actual translation of that era’s title of “madonna”, meaning “milady.”
An unusual aspect of this sculpture is her hair decorations which under strong light appear to be a silvery color that Cybis had never previously used (only 18k and 24k gold.) I have been told that the effect was obtained via the use of a special mother-of-pearl glaze.
And now we come to a discussion of the different editions and re-issues of the “Madonna with Bird.” The original edition, was produced only between 1956 and 1962. It was created by Laszlo Ispanky.
However, Cybis decided to issue not one but two later replicas 25 years after the retirement of the original. These replicas unfortunately can cause much confusion.
The first replica appeared in 1989 which was the studio’s Golden Anniversary year. The image above is taken from the Cybis studio’s “1989 Golden Anniversary Biblical Collection” brochure, and the caption below it reads as follows:
Madonna With Bird, Replica Special Edition of the famous sculpture with slight variations in size and colors. The brown hair and the pastel blue garment adds [sic] to the serenity of this most exquisite Cybis Madonna. Biblical Collection – Madonnas. 8 3/4″ h x 6 1/2″ w.
Unfortunately the small size of the brochure and the angle of the actual photograph make it hard to discern the details of the decoration on her garment but we’ll take the studio’s word for it that it was blue; her hair certainly is darker than the original Madonna With Bird who was blonde. Because this piece was introduced in 1989, the ones that were actually physically produced during that year bear the special 50th Anniversary backstamp (seen in Signatures and Marks) adjacent to the usual Cybis mold impressions and painted signature. An accompanying price list for the 1989 50th Anniversary pieces shows two entries for this piece: Madonna w/Bird (Replica) design #20184 at $475 and just below it, Madonna w/Bird (Base) design #20206 at $575. This indicates that the Golden Anniversary replica was available both with and without the wood base which was “standard” on the original 1950s-1960s edition. However, the price list shows the height for BOTH options (with and without base) as 8 1/2″…. which is itself slightly different from the 8 3/4″ given in the photo caption! Logic dictates that the with-base version must be taller but we have no idea by how much. The height of the original edition was 11″ including the base, by the way. However, any of these which were physically created in 1990 or later do not carry the special stamp. This particular edition has a copyright year of 1988 as a mold impression.
Either the color of the blue trim on her garment varied considerably, or the Cybis brochure photo was of a lighter-blue prototype (this occurrence was not unknown in Cybis advertising.) This particular piece with darker blue decoration does not have the 50th stamp, which means it was physically created after 1989.
The confusion deepens when we get into the 1990s, because at some point during that decade Cybis chose to release yet another edition of the Madonna with Bird, called Madonna With Bird II, as part of their Hall of Fame series of replicas. Unfortunately some official Cybis photos lacked the wood base that was part of the actual retail production sculpture…. so we cannot always rely solely on those images when it comes to bases. Although this HOF version has the same brown hair and white veil as the 1989 Replica, her clothing is a different colorway. None of the HOF pieces have the 50th Anniversary stamp because they were all made after 1989, but I have no idea whether the copyright year mold impression is the 1988 or something else (if it is there at all.)
And to make the confusion complete, I have found (but am not including the image of) a Madonna with Bird knockoff that was sold on eBay in 2008 as part of a large lot of religious-themed jewelry. There was only one photo, showing her with brown hair, a salmon-colored veil, solid beige clothing with green trim, and a white bird which is not from the same mold as the Cybis bird. The hands are also not positioned in exactly the right places (this is a four-part mold design.) Thankfully it is not described as a Cybis; the seller cites it as being “signed Slovenia on bottom”! This was the only non-Cybis example of the Madonna With Bird that I have found, and have no idea how Slovenia comes into the mix. (Ispanky was born in Budapest, Hungary, and was a POW in Siberia for almost a year, but came to the USA in 1956 which means the Madonna with Bird was probably one of the first American designs he produced.)
Another probably-1990s introduction, and a new design, is Madonna with Rose (not the same piece as “Rose Madonna”). It is available only in color but the option is available to purchase it either with or without the base that is shown. It’s unclear whether the base is attached to the sculpture or whether it is simply an accompaniment. The Cybis site shows it with base as being 8” high at $795, and without the base as 7” high and priced at $595… thus a $200 premium for the base.
Back to the future again: the Madonna with Lace is an upsized (by 2” overall) version of the 1960s Madonna with Lace Veil shown earlier…..which itself was an adaptation of the 1950s Holland Mold Company madonna. So this is the fourth and presumably final incarnation of what originally began as a Holland Mold Company design. Her introduction date is unknown but it was definitely after 1980 … my guess is sometime in the 1990s, and so I’ve placed it at the end. This piece, offered in either plain white bisque or in color as shown with a blue lace veil and yellow rose, is 6.5” high (the original 1950s/1960s mold was 4.5” high, and so this has been upsized from the previous three; see Upsize Downsize if you’re curious about how such things are done). The Cybis website shows pricing as $199 for the plain white bisque and $299 for color.
The current Cybis website also lists, but does not have a photograph of, a sculpture called Madonna Most Pure which is available in white at $295 and color at $395. Supposedly it is 6.75” high but there is no indication of whether it is a bust or a full figure. I will try to find out more about this sculpture including its introduction date.
There is a direct-contact form on the About the Cybis Archive page if any reader has photos of, or information about, any Cybis madonnas (of whatever era) that they would like to share; in research, every little bit helps!
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