Tags

, , , , ,

‘Portraits in Porcelain’ was the category name given by Cybis in to their limited edition full-figure studies of characters from history, literature and the performing arts. These covered a wide range of subjects and sometimes more than a bit of artistic license was used in the portrayals, but a number of the Portraits can be counted among the studio’s best work. This retrospective covers the historical personages. Sculptures are listed below in chronological order based on the birth dates of the actual people portrayed. They range from approximately 1350 B.C. (18th Dynasty Egypt) to the early 1800s (Regency England).

 

NEFERTITI by Cybis view 1Nefertiti by Cybis view 2nefertiti-detailThere were two Cybis sculptures of Nefertiti, Great Royal Wife of the 18th Dynasty (ca. mid-1300s BC) Pharaoh Akhenaten (originally named Amonhotep IV) who is regarded as the first monotheist in history. Their first portrait was this seated figure, introduced in 1979 with an issue price of $2100; by 1982 she was $2875. It is 12” high and was an edition of 500, now completed.
Nefertiti by Cybis in lighter skin colorationAlthough most examples of Nefertiti have the bronze skin tone shown in the first group of photos, a small number — possibly the earliest ones — are this lighter shade that is typical of Cybis portraits. The official Cybis catalog photo is inconclusive because of the overall reddish shading of the image but that one does tend more toward the paler skin shown here, lending credence to the theory that the skin tone was darkened during the production run.

 

 

NEFERTITI BUST by CybisNefertiti Bust detail 1The Nefertiti Bust, similar in size to those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra illustrated below, was the second study. Both Nefertiti studies wear a crown that is a very close, but not exact, copy of the one worn by the iconic ancient bust discovered at Tell-el-Amarna in 1912; of the two Cybis versions, the one worn by the 1979 sculpture is the more accurate. This bust is 8” tall and is a limited edition of 1000 (probably from the mid to late 1980s)  which is shown on the current Cybis site for $1275.

Nefertiti bust signatureThere are several interesting things about this bust. One is that unlike the normal in-mold copyright date, this one says “1989/90” which is not a valid format for a copyright year; copyrights are registered on actual specific dates, not year ranges. So the mold stamp seems to instead indicate its approximate(?) issue year. This bust isn’t in either of the two 1989 Cybis brochures that I have, so it was probably a 1990 release. Another anomaly is that the sculpture number was not in its normal location adjacent to the signature and mold marks, but was instead put onto the underside of the piece. I have no idea if they are all numbered that way, however.

Nefertiti Bust detail 2The designer of this bust did do some research, as evidenced by the design on the front of the base: The central motif is of the sun god Aten with its rays extending downward. Nefertiti and Akhenaten founded a religion based on the Aten, so this is historically accurate.

Nefertiti cartoucheHowever, the royal cartouches flanking the Aten symbol aren’t those of either Nefertiti or her husband. Queen Nefertiti’s actual cartouche is shown above.

 

 

CLEOPATRA BUST by CybisThe Cleopatra Bust is 9” tall, in an edition of 1000 from 1989 (at $575) which means some will have the special 50th Anniversary backstamp. This is the only representation of Cleopatra ever done by Cybis and in this study she wears the Hathor Crown. Unfortunately, their Queen of Sheba sculpture (shown in Literary Characters) is sometimes mis-identified by sellers as being Cleopatra. This bust appears on the Cybis site for $1175.

 

 

MARK ANTONY BUST by CybisMark Antony Bust, 8.75” tall, another limited edition of 1000 from 1989, and described on the Cybis website as the companion bust to Cleopatra (the two sculptures are sold and priced separately). He was originally priced at $475 and is now $975.

 

 

LADY GODIVA by Cybis in standard colorsLADY GODIVA by Cybis artists proof OOAKOf course this is Lady Godiva, a limited edition of only 200 in 1982 and 13” high. The entire sculpture was designed by Lynn Klockner Brown. The first photograph is the normal coloration of the retail edition; the second photo shows a one of a kind artist’s proof in shades of brown.

Lady Godiva original artists proof colorway view 1Lady Godiva original artists proof colorway view 2This artist’s proof is very similar to the production version but does have some differences, particularly in the horse’s trappings which are gold here but mostly silver grey in the retail piece. There is more contrast between the blue and pink tones, Lady Godiva’s hair is a lighter blonde, and there is a lace ribbon that is longer than the other versions.
lady-godiva-original-artists-proof-detailShe does represent an actual personage although her name at the time (ca. 1015–1050) was rendered as “Godgifu”. She was the wife of Leofric, the Lord of Coventry, and was one of very few female landowners in her own right during that time. The tale of her clothes-free ride, however, is almost certainly apocryphal and does not appear in any records until about a hundred years later.

 

 

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE by CybisEleanor of Aquitaine view 2Eleanor of Aquitaine is 13” tall and is a completed edition of 750. This sculpture was commissioned by AVCO Embassy Pictures in 1969 to honor Katherine Hepburn’s role as Henry II’s influential queen (1122-1204) in ‘The Lion in Winter’ but it was not released at retail until 1971 (at $875).

Eleanor of Aquitaine made with two ringsThere are two very slightly different versions of Eleanor: in some examples she wears only one ring (the large ornate one on her left hand) and in the other version – shown above – she wears two rings (an additional wide plain ring on her right.) The official Cybis photo seen in their 1979 catalog shows the two-ring version. The difference doesn’t seem connected to the sculpture numbers, because a casual survey of sold Eleanors doesn’t show any pattern. For example, numbers 231, 252 and 391 all have one ring while numbers 199, 200 and 249 were made with two rings. Was the righthand ring an actual item that was added to that finger, or was it part of the mold for some castings but not others? And why?

 

 

RICHARD THE LIONHEART by Cybisrichard-the-lionheart-detailHere is Richard the Lionheart (Richard I, aka Richard Cœur de Lion.) Son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, he ruled England for only ten years (1189-1199), most of which time he spent on crusade, and died in his mother’s arms, in France, at the age of forty-one. Cybis’ portrait is 15” tall, released as an edition of 350 in 1982, was priced at $2750 by 1988, and is currently shown on the Cybis site for $5500.

 

 

BERENGARIA by CybisBerengaria, daughter of the King of Navarre and wife of Richard I, literally never set foot in England as its queen and may never have done so in her life at all. She was married to Richard on the island of Cyprus while he was on crusade (as usual!) and was crowned there. This sculpture of her is 15” tall and was an edition of 500 introduced in 1979 (prior to Richard) for $1450, and completed in 1981. Her headdress, hands, and falcon were sculpted by Lynn Klockner Brown. The correct name for this piece is just Berengaria, not “Queen Berengaria” as is seen in some online listings. By the way, if you look closely at the sculptures of Berengaria and her mother-in-law Eleanor of Aquitaine, you will see that they share something in common: Cybis used the same lower body (torso/undergown/robe) mold for both!

 

 

PRISCILLA by CybisHopping across The Pond for a moment, we have Priscilla who is 14” tall and issued as a declared edition of 500 in 1976, America’s Bicenenntial year, at $825 and completed in 1982 at $1125. Born Priscilla Mullins in England in 1602, she traveled on the Mayflower in 1620. Her entire family perished during the first winter in the New World. Her marriage to John Alden was the third to take place in Plymouth Colony; she died in 1685.

Another early American study, First Born, Virgina Dare can be seen in Five Cybis for Mothers’ Day; however, that piece was not considered by Cybis to be one of their “Portraits in Porcelain.”

 

 

GOOD QUEEN ANNE by CybisGood Queen Anne (1665-1714) was the daughter of James II of England and queen in her own right from 1702-1714. Cybis’s Anne is 14” high; she was a delcared edition of 750 in 1978 for $975, but the edition size was reduced first to 500 and then to 350 before closing in 1982 at $1250. A different English queen, Anne of Bohemia – wife to Richard II during the 1200s – was also popularly known as “good queen Anne”’ because she would often intercede with the king on behalf of the welfare of the peasantry.

The next three sculptures depict American historical personages.

 

 

ABIGAIL ADAMS by CybisAbigail Adams, (1744-1818) wife of President John Adams and mother of President John Quincy Adams. Designed by Lynn Klockner Brown, Abigail is shown writing one of the more than 1000 letters sent between herself and her husband during their 40+ years of correspondence. This sculpture is 10” tall and was a declared edition of 750 that was later reduced to only 600. Like Priscilla she was introduced during the Bicentennial year of 1976. Initially priced at $875, the edition was closed in 1981 at $1125. An interesting info-bit about this sculpture is that it was originally intended to be Betsy Ross but at the last minute a decision was apparantly made to substitute papers and pen for the flag and needle!

 

 

GEORGE WASHINGTON BUST by CybisUnlike the others illustrated here, the George Washington (1732-1799) bust was an open edition. It is 13” high on base. This was commissioned by the Bicentennial Council of the Thirteen Original States, whose logo appears on the medallion attached to the base. Made only in white bisque as shown, it was made for five years (1975-1980); its price went from $175 to $275 during that period. Sculpted by William Pae.

 

 

MR PRESIDENT by Cybismister-president-detailIntroduced in 1987 to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States Constitution, Mr. President shows George Washington holding a porcelain scroll on which is incised December 15, 1791 The Bill of Rights, first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The base on which he stands, showing the first 13 states, is also used for the base of Cybis’ Noble Eagle sculpture. This sculpture is 17” tall and has a declared limited edition of 500. Its original issue price of $1,987 was the same as its introduction year. As of 2009 the retail price had risen to $2500.

 

 

BEAU BRUMMEL by CybisAnd finally, back to England for this portrait of the famous dandy Beau Brummel. This sculpture was offered at an auction in 2007, at which time it was mis-identified as being George Washington! Well, that’s completely incorrect because everything about the piece — from hairstyle to every item of clothing — absolutely screams English Regency Period, which was from 1811 to 1820. George Washington wouldn’t have been caught dead looking like this…. literally, because our first President died in 1799 at the age of 67. That said, this sculpture is a bit of an oddity because stylistically it looks like a 1960s-1970s piece, contemporaneous perhaps with Lady Macbeth or Ophelia. He is also one of only two Cybis studies that includes a plinth; the other is the 1970s Enamored Prince Florimund seen in the ballet post, although it is not the exact same one.

However, Beau Brummel appears nowhere in any 1970s Cybis catalog, nor does it appear in the 1982 and 1988 retail price lists that I have acquired. If he was a 1990s release, he must have had a very short-lived production run! Lacking any photo of the signature area, it is equally possible that this may have been an artist’s proof that was never put into production. Should anyone have some retail information about this piece, it would be much appreciated; there is a direct-contact form at the bottom of the About the Cybis Reference Archive page.

Name Index of Cybis Sculptures
About the Cybis Reference Archive
What is Cybis?

Images of Cybis porcelain sculptures are provided for informational and educational purposes only. All photographs are copyrighted by their owner as indicated via watermark. Images bearing a Cybis watermark appear here by kind permission of Cybis, Inc. for use solely as reference material herein. Please see the copyright notice in the footer and sidebar for important information regarding the text that appears within this website.

Advertisements