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)
With only one exception, all of the madonnas shown in this post were 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 at that time. This piece was “un-retired” a decade later, as will be shown farther down in this post.
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.
This is one of the most confusing re-issues that the Cybis studio ever did. Introduced in 1981 under the name Madonna Angelica, this is actually the same Queen of Angels shown in the 1950s overview. It appears on the 1982 price list simply as “Madonna, Angelica” at 5.5″ high, design #2059, for $285. All well and good… except that the original Queen of Angels mold is 6.75″ high. Was this a downsized version?
Fast forward to Cybis’ early 1988 price list, where we now find “Madonna Angelica”, design #20059, for $295 but the height is now shown as 6.75″ — which matches the height of the original Queen of Angels mold. Also now available is a color version for $375 which sports design number 10059.
The plot thickens: Madonna Angelica disappears entirely from the Cybis lineup (i.e., ws “retired”) during the first few years of the 1990s, only to reappear on their Fall 1995 price list at $475 for the white and $595 for the color version.
None of the Madonna Angelica iterations were produced with a wood base, as the original Queen of Angels pieces were. Remember, though, that these bases are attached to the sculptures only by a toggle bolt. The porcelain mold heights are 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.
Here’s where things get really crazy. Because Cybis also wanted to also continue selling the white bisque original Queen of Angels, they 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, seen on the 1982 price list as “Queen of Angels”, 11 inches high, design #2059 for $250 which is less than that of Madonna Angelica! No mention of a base.
However, six years later (1988) we find these two in white bisque: Queen of Angels, 11″ high, no base, design #23093 for $325; and Queen of Angels, 13″ high, with base, design #13093, for $350. A fifty-dollar upcharge for a wood base which is, according to my math, only 2″ high which means it is obviously not the cube to which the original Queen of Angels sculpture was attached. What I do not know is whether the 2″ base was attached to the later bust, or if it merely accompanied it as a separate item. Perhaps one will turn up on eBay someday and solve the mystery.
Cybis continued to increase the prices of the upsized 1980s Queen of Angels throughout the 1990s until they finally landed on their circa-2000s website at $699 and $799 — the same pricepoint as their white and color Madonna Angelica sold concurrently.
So here is a handy-dandy Identification Key for this madonna design in its various iterations, arranged in order of overall height as either With Base or Without.
If mounted on a wood base:
Color; height 11” including a cube-shaped base, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels, made between the mid 1950s and 1970
White; height 11” including a cube-shaped base, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels, made between the mid 1950s and 1980
White; height 13” including or accompanied by a 2″ high base, shirt area is plain/smooth = later version of Queen of Angels, made from 1981 onward
If without a base:
White; height 5.5″, shirt has lace pattern = Madonna Angelica circa 1981
Color; height 6.75”, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels but missing its original base, made between mid 1950s and 1970
Color; height 6.75”, shirt area has lace pattern = Madonna Angelica made from 1982 onward
White; height 6.75”, shirt area is plain/smooth = original Queen of Angels but missing its original base, made between mid 1950s and 1980
White; height 6.75”, shirt area has lace pattern = Madonna Angelica made from 1982 onward
White; height 11”, shirt area is plain/smooth = later upsized Queen of Angels, made from 1981 onward.
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 supposedly-flowerless original model, nor any information as its production years or pricing; the 1989 version cost $275. Only sculptures physically produced during 1989 will bear the special 50th Anniversary stamp. During the first half of the 1990s the price was $325.
Yet another 1989 Anniversary-year reissue was our friend the late-1960s “tilt-head madonna” this time brought back with gold accents, in keeping with the Golden Anniversary 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. There were two color options: The one shown above was called the “color” version and sold for $185, and also a “white” version (no paint on the face or hair but instead just the gold trim on her cowl) for $175.
Another 1980s design was the Rose Madonna, 5” high and issued in 1987 at $145 which rose (no pun intended) to $195 by 1995. This was sculpted by Lynn Klocker Brown during the last two years that she was at the studio.
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 full edition was never completed, probably due more to the studio’s dramatic price increases for it than anything else: $1250 in 1993, $1375 in 1995, and $2975 from the late 1990s onward.
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 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 trio (yes, there were three) of the Madonna with Bird. The original edition, which is shown below, was produced only between 1956 and 1962.
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 (unless the piece was not physically attached to the base.) 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 only deepens when we enter the 1990s because at that time 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. They assigned design number 02184 to this piece (the number given to the 1989 Replica edition was 20184) according to their 1993 price list. Just to make us crazy, the height is given as 9.5″ inches (slightly taller than the 8.75″ high 1989 edition) BUT this HOF model was available with with a base for $600 or without it for $575, at least at first. But by late 1995 the “with base” option disappeared, leaving only the no-base one for sale at $600.
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 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. (If you’re morbidly curious, you can see it in the Hall of Shame.)
A 1990 introduction was Madonna with Rose (not the same piece as “Rose Madonna”) at $475. It was available only in color but had an option to purchase it either with or without the 1″ thick porcelain base that is shown. The no-base version is 7″ high; the with-base version is 8″ high and was $575, reflecting an additional $100 for the base to which the bust is attached.
Back to the future again: this Madonna with Lace was resurrected at the start of the 1990s as an upsized (by 2”) version of the 1960s Madonna with Lace Veil shown earlier…..which itself was taken from the 1950s Holland Mold Company madonna! So this is the fourth and final incarnation of what originally began as a Holland Mold Company design. 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). In 1993 the plain white one was $95 and the color was $125.
The mid-1990s also saw the introduction of a sculpture called Madonna Most Pure in white at $295 and color at $395. Supposedly it is 6.75” high but because there was never a photo of it on their website, I have no idea whether this is a bust or a full figure.
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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