Cybis produced quite a number of porcelain sculptures that can be put into the ‘fantasy’ genre: unicorns, mythological figures, fairytales of all sorts, and of course the three main characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Nevertheless there are still a baker’s dozen that fail to fit into any of those categories, and many of them were designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.
Dawn was the first “fantasy” figure produced under the modern studio’s imprimatur, as opposed to the very different “fantastique” art pieces produced as one of a kind studies by Boleslaw and Marja Cybis. Dawn is a Laszlo Ispanky design and is 10.5” high. Available colorways were white bisque and color as shown. There is a bit of confusion regarding her production date; Cybis in Retrospect claims 1960-1964, while the 1979 Cybis catalog says 1962-1966. The white bisque version sold for $75, and the color for $90, throughout. Because Cybis had no ‘fantasy’ category during the 1960s, Dawn was somewhat oddly assigned to their ‘Children to Cherish’ range even though the contours of her figure show that she’s not a young child.
After Ispanky left Cybis and established his own studio he created a somewhat similar piece also called “Dawn” in 1970 which shares some characteristics including the backswept hair and diaphanous drapery. The Cybis studio later re-used the Dawn mold, with a few modifications and additions, in 1977 for Queen Titania:
Titania is exactly the same size (10.5” high) as Dawn and even the positions of the fingers of the right hand on both sculptures are the same although the arms are repositioned forward. The head is different but the rest of the body is Dawn’s . (Additional views of Titania, as well as her consort Oberon the fairy king and the mischievous sprite Puck, are included in the Shakespeare post.)
I chose not to include Cybele in the Mythology post because despite her name she does not correctly represent a specific character. Designed by Lynn Brown, she is 11” high and was a declared edition of 500 in 1973; by 1982 the edition had been completed, with the final price being $775.
This is another case of Hazel Herman, the studio’s sculpture namer, conflating two entirely different mythological characters. In ancient Greek mythology Cybele – originally a Phrygian fertility goddess – eventually became associated with Demeter as the mother of all the gods. But for some reason Ms. Herman chose the name Cybele for this female centaur sculpture even though there is absolutely no connection between the two. It would have been better to instead name this sculpture Hylomene which was the name of one of very few centaurides (female centaurs) appearing in Greek mythology; her beloved was the male centaur Cyllarus. It’s also very strange that Cybis would have chosen the name Cybele for anything at all, given the decidedly “R-rated” aspect associated with the legend and cult of that goddess!
During the 1970s Cybis began what was intended as a whimsical fantasy category which they named the “Caprice Collection”. The following two open editions were released simultaneously as the launch of that genre, and are only two designs of this type; it seems the concept was abandoned fairly quickly because both were retired after only two years.
Turtle ‘The Baron’ was made only from 1975 – 1977 and was priced at $75 throughout. He is 3” high, 5” from nose to tail tip, and 3.5” wide. In Cybis’ 1979 catalog he is described as “The Baron, whose great grandsire is still remembered in sporting circles as the winner of that fabled Grand Prix of Aesop….[and] who is currently seen with his houseguest, the youngest scion of the Emerald-Green Frog family.”
Ladybug ‘Duchess of Seven Rosettes’ is of similar design and likewise was only made for the same two years. Issued at $65 in 1975, her price rose to $90 at her 1977 retirement. She is 2” high, 5” long, and 4” wide.
The first of the several Cybis fairies was Marigold, an open edition from 1977–1980 at 5”high. Her retail introduction brochure describes the turtle she is riding on as a nephew of The Baron (who had just been retired.) Cybis dubbed this new fantasy-theme collection the “Land of Chimeric” although they also had an existing “Fantasia Collection”. However, most collectors pay little attention to the various Cybis categories which is just as well because they were arbitrary and thus often in a state of flux.
Tiffin, also issued in 1977 and retired in 1980, is a male counterpart of Marigold and is 5.5” high. Perhaps his ‘mount’ is the same small frog seen atop The Baron but now all grown up?
Pip, the Elfin Player is 8” high. Released in 1979 and completed in 1982, he was an edition of 1000 at $450. His closing price was $665. Despite his name, Pip is technically not an elf: he is a faun. Fauns were originally called “panes” because they were thought to be sons of the god Pan. But it is true that, like elves, fauns were regarded as forest spirits or sprites. Pip was sculpted by Lynn Klockner Brown, with her young son as the model.
Two fairies were introduced during 1981. Ariel was an open edition and is 4.5” high; his retirement year and final price are unknown. He is clearly a continuation of the same design aesthetic as Marigold and Tiffin. There is no connection between this Ariel and the fairy/elf of the same name in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, who would never have been caught dead (or otherwise) riding on a grasshopper. In a leap of illogic that entirely defies explanation, a major online auction house sold one of these as supposedly being named “Calypso”!
Melody was also introduced in 1981. She had a declared edition of 1000 although I do not know if that number was ultimately reduced. Her issue price was $725. This sculpture is 6” high. In their catalog issued the same year, Melody was described as being “Pip’s companion, who inclines her head to better hear the merry notes of his flute” and she too was designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.
In 1982 Cybis released this male centaur as a companion piece to Cybele; he is 10” high, also designed by Lynn Klockner Brown and was a limited edition of 350 at $675. This fellow definitely has an identity crisis to deal with. The 1982 Cybis catalog gives his name as Theron, the Hunter which is an absolute head-scratcher because in Greek mythology the only “Theron” is one of the dogs that attacked and devoured the hunter Actaeon after he (Actaeon) was turned into a stag by the goddess Artemis. So by choosing this name Cybis was conflating two very adversarial characters into one completely unrelated piece (especially since the Cybis piece does not show the centaur with a bow and arrow but instead as holding a robin’s nest.) What throws a monkey wrench into the works is that this sculpture has been sold online identified “Attis”… which name actually would make sense because in Greek mythology the ill-fated lover of the goddess Cybele was indeed named Attis! So to have named him Attis would have at least been logical, given the (mis)naming of the female centaur as Cybele.
This is an artist’s proof of Theron, in slightly deeper colors. The color of the velvet atop the bases in the production version varied between green and golden brown.
Doré is 8” high and was a declared edition of 1000. Conflicting sources give her introduction year as 1985 or 1986. In 1988 she retailed for $875. She is still shown on the present Cybis site priced at $1295. This sculpture by Lynn Brown was affectionately known as “the White Rock fairy” within the studio because of her similarity to the corporate logo of the White Rock Beverage Company!
Strawberry Boy was introduced in 1988 at $295. He is an open edition, 4.5” high, and is shown on the Cybis site for $499. Both he and the following sculpture were by Lynn Brown.
Carnation Boy is subtitled “Companion to Strawberry Boy” on the Cybis site and is likewise an open edition for $499. Carnation Boy was introduced in 1989 (at $325) and thus some of them will bear the special 50th Anniversary backstamp. He is 6.5” high.
Here is a one of a kind artist’s proof in a pink/blue colorway which I must say I like better than the retail production version!
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