Angels and cherubs have emerged from the Cybis studio ever since its earliest days in 1940s New York where Boleslaw and Marja Cybis created their “papka” frescoes and sculptures. The angels below are listed chronologically. None of them were limited editions.
An intriguing group of six angels produced between 1940 and 1942 in “papka” composition was the Angelic Orchestra, which is so unusual that it has been given its own separate post.
This photograph of Marja Cybis sculpting a large papka angel was taken at their first atelier within the Steinway Mansion in Astoria (Queens), NY. Judging from the photo, the angel must have been between two and three feet tall! However, on a background shelf appearing at the upper left of Marja’s head there appears to be a smaller version which is probably about a foot high.
That angel may well be the same one cited, but not illustrated, in the same catalog as Angel which is described as having a “pastel fresco decoration of soft pink, blue, mauve and yellow” – perhaps the same colors as the Angelic Orchestra – and being 11” high. Smaller angels listed but not shown, and all from the same 1940-1942 period, are an 8” high pastel Angel, and a 6” and 8” high Angel with Halo similarly decorated; another is cited as Angels, decorated in soft pink and blue but only 3” high.
This one is listed as Angel with Flowers from the same era and also cited as being decorated in fresco pastels (it’s a shame the photos in that catalog are all black-and-white!) It stands 11”-12” high.
A classified ad in the November 1984 issue of the New Yorker magazine offered a “Cybis one-of-a-kind signed-and-dated set of three papka angels, was $10,000, now $4995.” Unfortunately that was the extent of the description; no dimensions and no photographs.
Moving into the 1950s, there was a Herald Angel standing 9” high which apparantly was available in either plain white bisque, stained-glass color, and the rare Cypia decoration. Its actual design is unknown for lack of any photos. It’s not known whether this was the same Herald Angel that was included in the first Cybis nativity set from the same time period, although that angel may have been only 8″ high.
This pair of cherub heads was made to be hung on the wall and dates from the first half of the 1950s. They are signed with the “Cybis” and “fine china” stamps, both of which are typical of the studio at that time. These have strong Cordey overtones in both style and material and so my guess is they were made just as the studio was transitioning from Cordey to Cybis. The heads are 4.75″ high and 4″ wide. This was not a Cybis original design but was one of several that they purchased from local moldmaking companies.
A one-page text/name only list of verified sculptures in a 1974 Cybis catalog mentions these cherub heads but also lists Angel Heads as a separate item. These could conceivably have been either wall mounted heads, like the cherubs, or perhaps busts. The fact that they are listed as plural (“heads”) indicates they were sold as a pair. It is possible that “Angel Heads” could refer to another pair of cherubs sold as plaques from 1954-1962. According to the 1979 catalog they measured 5.5” x 7” (larger than the cherub heads pictured) and were sold as a pair either in white bisque at $30, or in color (price went from $42.50 to $50). The production run years were the same for both. Cybis in Retrospect also mentions this other of plaques. Perhaps they were named Angel instead of Cherub to avoid confusion?
That same 1974 list also includes Seated Angels (pair) which I have never seen.
It’s unclear whether a “Cherubs (pair)” mentioned in Cybis in Retrospect as being 5” high and circa 1954 refers to the ones shown above; if so, they were available in both white and “stained glass” color decoration. However, I wouldn’t really consider this type of decoration as stained-glass.
The Angels in Adoration were sold only as a pair, from 1953–1965. The Cybis 1979 catalog specifies the pair format and says that they were offered in white bisque only, but Cybis in Retrospect says they were also offered in stained glass (color). I have never seen a color version but would like to; if any reader has one and would like to share a photo, please use the direct-contact form on the About the Archive page. This angel is 14” high. They originally sold for $100/pair and are done in what we think of as the classic Cybis style although it’s not known if this was an original Cybis studio design.
Despite its very matte appearance in the black and white catalog photo, at least one of these angels was made in glazed white bisque. That same angel also has the “eagle stamp” in the mold, as well as a model number which oddly does not correspond to the number given in the 1979 Cybis catalog for this piece!
A future post will attempt to provide a reference for as many of the 1950s era Cybis pieces as possible, using the mold/design numbers given in the catalog and also as found on actual pieces. I am very curious to find out if all of these angels were numbered as shown above, and even more curious to see a color version if there actually was one! I’ve also never seen any sold as a pair, despite all the Cybis literature saying that was how they were supplied (and named!)
The Guardian Angel was sold individually as were most of the other Cybis angels. She is 12.5” high and was produced from 1954 to 1963. Made in two versions (which leads me to think that the Angels in Adoration were probably done likewise, despite the Cybis catalog info), the white bisque sold for $50 and the stained glass color for $75. In the early 1970s, second market sellers were asking $500-$700 for this angel. It’s important to note that this is not the same sculpture as the identically-named but completely different Guardian Angel that was introduced by Cybis during the 1990s. Interestingly, the name of this earlier piece is given as plural (“Guardian Angels”) in both Cybis in Retrospect and as the photo caption in the 1979 Cybis catalog, although it is listed as singular (Guardian Angel) in the book’s Appendix which also makes no mention of this ever being sold as a pair. I do believe that it was always sold singly. Notice that the color angels have a halo, but the white bisque one does not. I’d be curious to know whether there were any white bisque ones also made with a halo or whether it was only put onto the color versions.
This second example of a color Guardian Angel is wearing a different halo and is in a slightly different colorway: her dress is blue instead of pink, and the base is also blue instead of gold.
The Kneeling Angels were made from 1958 to 1965, in white bisque as well as at least three different colorways. She is approximately 5” although Cybis in Retrospect gives the height as 5.5”. These were sold as a pair and appear in the very first (1964) Cybis print catalog. However, the photo of the blue-winged version is the only one I’ve discovered of an original pair; most seen nowadays are just a single angel. The 1979 Cybis catalog does use the plural (“angels”) with a production pricing of $10 for the white and $15 for the color; one must assume that means per pair.
There followed a 15-year gap in Cybis angel introductions (one wonders why!) until Adoration appeared in 1981. It is now retired. It is 6” high and was made in white bisque for $325 and color for $375; by now all the color pieces had long since switched to the bisque (matte) finish rather than the high fired glaze. The baby is a separate mold which was also used for a separate Baby in Cradle giftware piece that is still an open edition.
Although Cybis first started their second Nativity series in 1982, an angel was not added until 1984. This is the Nativity Angel, kneeling and is 6.5” high. The introduction price was $275 for the white with gold, and $395 for the color version shown here. Currently the Cybis site shows its price as $895 for either colorway.
Little Angel appeared in 1986 at $125 in color as shown. An additional white-with-gold version later appeared when she was added to the Nativity set, both versions being currently priced at $395 from Cybis. She is 7.5” high. For some reason the Cybis site lists her as “Little Angel (standing)” even though there has never been a “Little Angel” in any other position but this. She was designed by William Pae.
In the mid to late 1980s Cybis also released Angel Annunciation. She is 9.5” high and is now retired. Supposedly she was introduced in 1986, but oddly an early 1988 Cybis price list does not include her at all, so perhaps she was made for only a single year?
The Nativity Angel II (standing) was added to the Nativity series in 1988 for $525 and appears on the existing Cybis site for $895. She is 9.75” high and is cast from the same body mold as the Angel Annunciation shown above. The wings are not identical but almost everything else (with very minor tweaks) is. The right arm of this angel is quite awkwardly placed due to the repositioning from the previous design as well. I believe it’s very possible that “Annunciation” was retired after only one year (1986-1987) and replaced by this reworked/renamed angel for the Nativity set.
The only image I currently have of the Nativity Angel III (standing) is this greatly enlarged portion of a partial-set photo of the white-and-gold second Nativity set. By all appearances this is the upper half of the Nativity Angel (kneeling) but as a standing figure instead. She has been retired – or at least no longer appears on the current Cybis site – but was certainly introduced sometime in the 1990s.
Supposedly part of the second nativity set even though stylistically she bears no resemblance whatever to the other angels is the Guardian Angel who must have been introduced in the early 2000s because a late-2008 website price list has the notation “New Release” next to her name. I’m surprised that Cybis decided to name this piece exactly the same as a (different) sculpture that they had produced 40 years earlier, especially as it’s not even a Hall of Fame replica – all of which also have the designation “II” or “III” added to the replica’s name. The name is not the only puzzlement; the style is markedly different from what we typically see from Cybis. In any event, this millenial Guardian Angel was added to the nativity set in both color and white-with-gold at a current retail shown as $895. She is also noticeably taller than the other two standing angels, at 12.75” high.
Cybis also issued a number of angel holiday ornaments during the 1980s and 1990s. The first was an annual series of four, starting in 1985; all were designed by Lynn Klockner Brown. Unlike other Cybis items, these were sold in a specially designed satin-lined gift box and were only available during their individual issue year.
This was the first (1985) Angel Ornament which was priced at $75. She is 4” high. These annual ornaments have a flat base so that they can be displayed standing as well as hanging.
These are two artist’s proof colorways of this ornament; the one on the right differs from the production version via the pearlized glaze on the lace trim.
The presentation boxes were contoured to fit the specific ornament.
The complete set of four is shown. At the center front is the 1988 Angel Ornament which is 3.75” high. From left to right along the back row: 1986 Angel Ornament at 4” high, 1987 Angel(s) Ornament which at 4.75” is the tallest; and the aforesaid 1985 Angel Ornament. Obviously they are all “retired” because they were only sold during their specific year. The 1987 Ornament was given the name Heavenly Angels and sold for $125.
Two colorways of the 1986 Angel Ornament are known: green (which may have been the standard retail version) and blue. The angel’s eye color matches the bow.
As seen in several other Cybis website shop-listings, their descriptions do not always match the photos attached to them. For example, the ornament pictured above is listed there as “Angel Ornament with Harp”, at 3” high and selling for $75 in plain white bisque or $125 in white with gold (which seems to be what is shown above). Because there is no evidence of a harp anywhere on this piece, I’m going to assume for the moment that the name as shown there is an error and should instead be Angel Ornament with Star Halo; that would make sense, whereas “harp” absolutely does not!
Many thanks to eBay user jaxpicker2 for these photos of their ornament, which are considerably better than the thumbnail image seen on the Cybis website. This ornament, like the larger angel heads, has a flat bottom enabling it to stand on a surface as well as to be suspended from the halo-opening. Perhaps she was meant to be the “little sister” of the slightly larger annual angels!
This angel ornament shown on the Cybis site is available in two colorways but again the single very tiny photograph is less than helpful. One is titled Blue Boy Cherub, First Edition and the other as Pink Girl Cherub, Second Edition. I assume they were issued at least a year apart, because Cybis switched from assigning specific years to many of their items and instead titles them as ‘editions’ instead. Size is given as 5” high and both are currently priced at $295. I have never seen either of these offered for sale elsewhere, so if anyone has a photo to share I would be grateful for the chance to improve upon this image! There is a direct-contact form on the Cybis Index page.
Another gender-colorways angel ornament is listed but not pictured on the site. This is Angel Child, available in either pink or blue at $150 each. It is 3.75” high. Like the boy and girl cherub ornaments, no information is available as to issue year or initial pricing although it’s likely that both series are from the early 1990s.
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