This final category of religious studies in Cybis porcelain looks at their saints, crucifixes, and various Jesus figures, as well as miscellaneous items such as plaques and holy water fonts. The vast majority of the items shown below date from the 1950s, which means that (unless noted otherwise in the description) the molds were not original Cybis designs. All of these were open editions except for a single 1980s limited edition which is shown last. The 1950s madonnas and the post-1960 madonnas have their own posts.
Jesus Figures and Busts
Several of the 1950s Jesus figures shown below were meant as companion pieces to a corresponding Mary/madonna design, even though each were named and sold separately.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus bust was part of just such a 1950s “companion pair”. It is slightly more than 6.5″ high overall and was typically produced in a glazed finish as shown. Exact retail pricing is unknown but probably sold for $10 or less. The companion bust was Immaculate Heart of Mary seen in Early Madonnas. As shown in the second photo, some bases were decorated with a flower and some were not. A typical signature is their blue-stamped “Cybis Fine China”.
This Jesus bust is also approximately the same size (7″ high) and of the same era. It is from a Holland Mold Company mold which appears to have also been sold by Atlantic Molds later on; in any case it wasn’t an original Cybis design. It too had a companion Mary bust; she wears a blue veil and is also included in Early Madonnas. The second photo shows the underside of both busts; notice that the Jesus one is stamped Cybis but the Mary one is not. However, both pieces still have the mold number written in pencil (which should have been removed during production): 2064 and 2065. A future post will discuss the Cybis mold numbering system, but suffice to say for now that all of their religious mold numbers began with the number 2. This is one way in which the occasional unsigned 1950s Cybis piece can possibly be identified even though it was not namestamped.
Here is another anonymous Jesus bust (anonymous as to what Cybis may have called it, that is). Unfortunately the description did not give a height, nor was there anything in the photo to suggest scale. It was cited as being signed Cybis.
Ecce Homo is 10″ high; it was first introduced in the 1950s and retired in 1964. It sold for only $15 during that entire time. Although the 1979 Cybis catalog says it was only made in white, Cybis in Retrospect says it was produced in several colorways: “white, decorated, glazed, decorated”. Clearly the base of the example above was color (possibly an extremely dark green) even though the bust itself is pure white. The ‘companion’ Mary piece was Mater Dolorosa. Both were made from commercial molds that were also available to hobbyists and other ceramics manufacturers.
Sun of Justice is 17″ high and was produced only during the 1950s. The height citation is what is given in the 1979 Cybis catalog, and invites confusion because the photo above (from that same catalog) shows it adjacent to its companion madonna bust Mirror of Justice and the photo caption gives the same 17″ height for both. Both are wearing the same intricately carved wood halo but the Jesus bust is pictured on a wood base while the Mary bust is not. Complicating the matter is that during the 1950s Cybis was not consistent in whether a specific figure was produced with or without a halo! So I have no idea whether the cited 17″ height means “without halo and without base”, “with halo but without base”, or “including halo and base.”
This Christ child in crib is from the 1950s but is not the same one that was used in the nativity set of that era. Offered by a Cybis retailer during the early 1970s along with a number of other 1950s Cybis religious pieces, it was described as being about 3.5″ square but no height was given. A fair guess might be between five and six inches. The finish was also described as being the richly colored and highly glazed “stained glass.”
This figure of Jesus as a young boy was sold as Jesus, Most Obedient for $25 during the 1950s and was supposedly made in white only. It is 9.5″ tall. The halo is the same one that was used on at least one of their angels during the same time period.
The same mold was used, sans halo, for this piece which was cited as being 11″ high overall. It has the same gold skin as seen on one of the House of Gold and Madonna and Child pieces from the same era (see the Early Madonnas post for both.) From this piece and the foregoing we can guesstimate the height of the Jesus mold itself as being 7.5″. It’s not known if this version had a specific name, so at the moment I am calling it the young Jesus with hand raised.
This piece is also very unusual in that it’s the only one I have ever seen with the Cybis signature done in bright red paint!
This full-length Sacred Heart figure was made both with and without a halo, and in both plain white bisque and color. Sold from the 1950s until retirement in 1964, the white version was $20 and the color $25. The no-halo figure is 10.5″ tall, although the 1979 Cybis catalog (which shows it with a halo) says 12″ (in reality, more like 11.75″). So the halo added at least an inch to that dimension. Notice the difference in coloration between the halo and non-halo examples, although I have no idea whether that was consistent. The halo example also lacks the flower decoration on the base.
Two other Jesus figures are mentioned in Cybis literature but without any photos. One is titled Christ Child ‘Joy of Angels’ with base, made during the 1950s, 10.5″ high, and available in “bisque/glazed white” which sounds like all white with glazed highlights. Pricing then was $22.50. Was this a creche piece similar to the one above, or even a larger version of same?
The other is a circa-1950s Bust of Christ that was 17″ high, made in both white and color. This may have been something similar to Sun of Justice. During the production years its price went from $30 to $65 for the white, and $37.50 to $72.50 for the color. Like the other busts, there was a companion mold named Bust of Virgin Mary (also not pictured) with the same colorways and pricing history.
Some of the Cybis crucifixes were entirely made of porcelain while others were a combination of a porcelain figure upon a wood cross. All date from the 1950s.
Crucifix ‘Redeemer of the World’ is 16″ high and 9″ wide. Made from the 1950s until 1965 and offered in both white and color, the price ranged from $10 to $15. From this photo the cross appears to be wood. Cybis often “interchanged halos” and so this exact one was probably not used on every single example of this crucifix.
Crucifix ‘Corpus Christi’, from the early 1950s, is about 13″ high x 7” wide. It is all porcelain: a white bisque figure on a glazed white cross. This is a definitely a Holland Mold Company mold which was widely sold during the 1950s.
This unusual design is the Crucifix (Roualt style); the body is stained-glass porcelain and the cross is wood. It is 13.5″ high x 7.5″ wide. It’s not known whether this was an outside company’s mold or not. The title refers to the design being based on the 1937 Expressionist painting ‘The Crucifixion’ by Georges Roualt.
Here is an unusual crucifix on wooden cross that is as yet unidentified by name. Unfortunately this was the only available photo, taken from an unfortunate angle. It’s difficult to tell whether the tonal shadings on the white bisque body were part of the production, are darkened/discolored glue used for attachment, or are simply accumulated grime not removed. The auction listing cited this as being 16″ high and 14″ wide.
Two other 1950s crucifixes are mentioned but not illustrated in Cybis literature: a Crucifix, 12″ high x 8.5″ wide, in color for $37.50; and a rather large Crucifix, 20.5″ high x 14.5″ wide in plain white bisque although unclear if that refers to the entire piece or only the body.
This category includes traditionally shaped plaques and wall-mounted heads/busts.
This pair of Jesus and Mary wall busts from the 1950s each measure 4.25” x 4.75” and are stamped Cybis Fine China in blue on the reverse of both. It is highly likely that Cybis may have sold them under the names of “Sacred Heart” and “Immaculate Heart” although this is unconfirmed.
The circular Holy Ghost Dove Plaque dates from 1954 (possibly made only for one year?) and is 8.5″ diameter. Unfortunately this single black & white photograph provides no hint of what the disk’s background color was; it may have been a very dark green, as found in other pieces from those years, or another dark color. There is no indication in the Cybis catalog that it was wood, but that is certainly another possiblity because we know they were putting dark wood halos on some pieces. Further confusion is provided by the 1979 catalog which lists two colorways: white at $25, and stained-glass color at $40. If that refers only to the background color and not the dove, that indicates the background was probably not wood.
Also listed there but not pictured is a Lamb of God Plaque with identical dimensions, colorways, and prices. The appearance of the central porcelain element is not known.
The Oremus Hands plaque from the same era is a reproduction of the famous 16th-century Albrecht Durer pencil drawing produced as a small plaque. Numerous mold companies produced these and still continue to do so today, different only in medium and the presence and/or position of the “AD” initials. Cybis definitely produced it in a highly glazed color version and probably a white bisque one as well. The photo above is taken from a 1973 dealer offering of second-market Cybis pieces and was described as color. (It is not known whether the plaque was sold framed, but probably it was not.)
Mosaic Head of Christ: This mosaic plaque created with porcelain ‘chips’ joined with lead solder was produced by Marja Cybis in 1945. It is listed in Cybis in Retrospect as being circa 1946, but not illustrated, so it’s not known whether the provided size of 14.5” cited there represents a diameter or a square shape. The same publication also lists a Mosaic Head of Virgin Mary of identical size. The example shown above is 19.5” square framed, with the portrait plaque measuring 11.5” diameter The 2011 seller mentioned that the plaque is attached to the frame by means of clips, suggesting that it might have been removeable. It’s not known how many (if more than one each) of these were actually made, or whether any were intended for retail production. The discrepancy in dimensions could also indicate that there was a 14.5″ square version as well as this 11.5″ circular one.
The 1979 Cybis catalog appendix lists a 1950s Crucifix Plaque, 10″ high x 7″ wide, selling for $35 but there is no photo provided. It sounds as if this was a 10″x7″ rectangular mold containing a relief crucifix on the surface.
Two framed plaques and one decorative plate/plaque were issued during the modern era: the Holy Child of Prague Plaque and the Moses the Great Lawgiver Plaque were both small limited editions in 1981. A freeform shaped wall item titled the Holy Family Plate appeared in 1989. All three are shown in Plaques and Plates.
Holy Water Fonts
Cybis produced four slightly different holy water fonts during the same timeframe and probably concurrently. All were introduced during the 1950s and all were retired in 1964.
The Holy Water Font ‘Holy Ghost’ is illustrated in the 1979 Cybis catalog and described as “bisque/glazed white” selling for $15. Height is given as 11″. This is the same dove mold as used in the Holy Ghost Dove Plaque with the addition of a shaped basin for water below. As for the dark-colored mounting material, again there’s no indication of whether it was dark wood or dark painted porcelain. (The ribbed white element in the photo is not part of the item.)
Identical except for the subject figure (listed but not pictured in the catalog) was the Holy Water Font ‘Lamb of God’ …. again utilizing the same mold as in a circular plaque by the same name. Height and price were also matching the Holy Ghost version.
A entirely different design was used for the Holy Water Font ‘Our Lady of Grace’ which is clearly all porcelain. It’s also smaller, being 9″ high overall. Roughly calculating on a proportional basis from the photograph, the madonna figure is probably a bit more than 4.25″ high. This font sold for $10 during production.
A fourth font which was mentioned only in their 1974 catalog text list is Holy Water Font ‘Crucifixion’ with no other details given. This one was probably based on the larger (Holy Ghost/Lamb of God) format because the curved surface of the shell background of ‘Our Lady of Grace’ may not have easily lent itself to the insertion of a cross shape.
Many different saints marched out of the Cybis studio, probably more than will ever be fully documented because no doubt many were done as special commissions for specific churches. To date, the known ones follow. All date from the 1950s except for the final two, which are original Cybis designs; the others were all made from commercially available molds.
The ever-popular Saint Francis has at least three iterations and probably several more yet undiscovered. St. Francis Xavier is 11.5″ high including all portions of the base. This photo was from a Cybis dealer’s offering which makes me confident that the lower portion of the base was indeed how the piece was made and not something put there for photographic purposes.
St. Francis with Doves is 12″ high and 5.5″ wide overall. A dove perches on each shoulder and there may be a flower or plant at his feet (hard to discern from the photo scan.) Cybis in Retrospect lists the following colorways: “white, decorated, glazed, decorated.”
An expanded version of the previous piece is St. Francis with Doves and Lambs. The use of a larger (7.25″ wide x 3″ deep) base enabled the addition of more wildlife.
This is the glazed, color version of the same piece; that finish and the prevalence of this particular shade of brown dates this one to the 1950s. The owner advises that there is a penciled design number (2085) remaining on the underside; this corresponds to an entry in the 1979 Cybis catalog appendix listed simply as “Saint Francis”. The height cited there is 13.5″ which corresponds to the size of the actual piece shown above. Oddly, the Appendix only cites it as being made in color (as above) in spite of that fact that the first group of photos proves it was also offered in white bisque (the Appendix has been proved wrong before, however; see Cybis and Cordey Design Numbers for some instances)! According to the catalog, this version was produced from the 1950s until 1964 and priced at $40 throughout.
Saint Patrick was made in at least two slightly different colorways of lighter and darker green. He is 13.5″ which puts him into the same size class as the aforementioned St. Francis and the odds are that his production timeframe and pricing were the same also. Although cast from the same mold, the colorways present a dramatic difference. It’s interesting that there are no shamrocks at all on the dark green/gold version, and also that the snakes on the base are made more noticeable on the lighter one.
This gentle Saint Joseph is between 8″ and 9″ high. The flower-decorated base appears to be the same one that was used for the full-figure Sacred Heart of Jesus shown earlier although the St. Joseph figure is slightly shorter.
Another 1950s Cybis saint was Saint Philomena. She is about 6” high and cradles a bouquet of rushes in one arm while an anchor lies near her feet. I once owned this sculpture and brought her to the Cybis studio where Joseph Chorlton identified it by name. Unfortunately I sold it in the early 2000s and did not keep a photo.
Cybis in Retrospect cites a Head of St. John from 1948 as being a 13″ high “experimental one of a kind sculpture” in glazed porcelain.
In addition, a text list in the 1974 Cybis catalog includes the following: Saint Theresa, Saint Jude, Saint Pius, and Saint Anne with Mary. It isn’t known whether any or all of these were retail editions or special commissions for churches but all would have dated from the 1950s just as the ones shown here. No information other than the name was given.
Now we come to the only two modern-day “saint” pieces by Cybis. Unlike the 1950s items, they were both original Cybis studio designs.
Saint Peter was a one of a kind sculpture designed by Lazslo Ispanky in 1964. It was commissioned by Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York as a presentation gift to Pope Paul VI on the occasion of his visit to the United Nations during that year. It is 16″ high overall.
Although the official presentation ceremony took place in 1964, the sculpture was actually delivered personally by Marylin and Joseph Chorlton to the Pope at the Vatican the following year. Because of its importance the boxed sculpture had its own ticketed first class plane seat. A contemporary newspaper account reported that “The pilot learned what was going on and, as the flight got underway, told passengers over the intercom ‘You’ll be glad to know that Saint Peter is riding back there with you today.’”
The second, and only retail, representation of St. Peter was this limited edition of 500 that was introduced in 1981 at a price of $1250. It is just shy of being 17″ high. It does not appear on a 1988 price list of available sculptures, indicating that the edition was either completed or closed sometime between 1983 and 1987. Final edition size and closing price are unknown at present.
This pieta is more extensively profiled in the Cypia and Old Coin Gold post; because it was cast from a commercially available mold, we know it was about 10″ high unless there were multiple sizes of that mold. But that height does correlate with many of the other religious pieces that the studio was producing at that time (1950s.)
Lacking an official name source I’m arbitrarily calling this the Prayer Book, Lord’s Prayer because I don’t know if any other texts were also used. It is 3″ high and 5.75″ wide, and is from the early 1950s as evidenced by the stamped Cybis name (in this example, the less commonly seen pinkish paint color) rather than hand-signed. This was a commercially made (not original Cybis) mold; it was possibly a Holland Mold because the same rectangular decorative rear panel design is found on a different prayer scroll/book mold sold by that company.
There is a Prayer Scroll referenced in the 1974 catalog list with no other details; this piece would also have been from the 1950s era and was possibly something for wall mounting, similar to the Oremus Hands.
Another was a piece called Tower of Strength made from the 1950s until 1962 for $37.50 and which was 8″ high. This was probably (guessing?) a Jesus figure or bust but rather than assume I have placed it in this section pending an eventual image.
A modern item is the Bell with Praying Hands which dates from the 1990s or possibly very early 2000s. It is cast from the same mold as a shortlived series of “holiday bells” which will be seen in an upcoming post. It is 5” high and listed on the current Cybis site for $395 which is $100 higher than the holiday bell versions and apparantly reflects an upcharge for the availability of personalization on this particular bell.
The modern studio also produced four iterations of a single bust sculpture of Pope John Paul II, the first one appearing in the late 1980s, which is seen in its own post.
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