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.
This is actually a reissue/revision of the original early 1950s Madonna bust that had design #201. It’s uncertain when Cybis stopped producing that one but logic suggests that it was before this 1960s version, which was given a new design number (2080) for this iteration which was supposedly produced in both white bisque and decorated (color) bisque. 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.I have never seen a color version of #2080, which is 4.5″ high.
However, a color version was re-issued by Cybis more than twenty years later in a larger size (6.5” high) under the slightly different – but still confusing! – name of ‘Madonna with Lace’. That 1990s replica is shown at the end of this post.
Every so often a late 1950s or early 1960s Cybis open piece shows up on a wood base even though 99% of its production run did not have it. Here’s one such example. The bottom of the base is even covered with typical Cybis grey felt. The base adds one inch to the overall height.
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, she appears on the 1982 price list and catalog as 5.5″ high, design #2059, for $285. She is the same mold as the Queen of Angels except for her height ( Angelica is 1.25″ smaller), the lack of a wood base, and the lace decoration under her dress collar. Fast forward to Cybis’ early 1988 price list, where we now find “Madonna Angelica” as 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 with its own design number.
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!
An in-depth look at all of the versions of this madonna bust, including the Angelica pieces, can be found in the Will The Real Madonna Queen of Angels Please Stand Up? post. There are some indications that a third, even larger, size of Angelica may have been produced which included a white bisque version; see that post for more details.
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 the addition of a “with base” version, design #13093, for $350 and a total overall height of 13 inches. 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.
The above-mentioned Will the Real Queen of Angels… post also contains a handy quick-identification key to determine exactly which of the several versions of this particular Cybis madonna bust you have.
The third new design of this era is Madonna, Mother of Love which was introduced in Spring 1983 as an open edition at $245. It is 9.5″ high and was probably retired by 1986 (more or less.)
Another new 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 Klockner 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 Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi’s portrait of ‘madonna and child and two angels’, as it is known. The original is in the Uffizi Gallery.
A number of modern reproductions, such as the one on the left, eliminated the child and angels and only show the madonna figure. During the 1970s, an Italian studio owned by Gino Ruggeri produced a figurine cast in what they called “ivory alabaster” which was a mixture of alabaster powder and resin. Although the Cybis piece is similar to this one, there is no indication that the resemblance is based on anything other than both being inspired by the same painting (as were the myriad hang-able reproductions.)
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 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 in 1990 because in the autumn of that year, Cybis chose to release yet another edition of the Madonna with Bird, called Madonna With Bird II, as one of the first three pieces in their new Hall of Fame series. 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 the 1990 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.)
There were two more “Anniversary replica” madonnas as well. The retired 1983 Mother of Love was brought back in 1989 with a new name (Madonna with Baby), a slightly higher price ($275) and only one alteration: the original rose in her right hand was changed to a small lily. This photo is from their Golden Anniversary Biblical Collection brochure; it’s clear that nothing but the small flower was changed from the earlier edition, although any that were physically produced during 1989 should have the 50th Anniversary stamp on the underside.
The third 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 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. She too is in the Anniversary/Biblical brochure which shows six items, only one of which (the Holy Family Plaque) is a new design. The other are all tweaks or replicas of current or former sculptures.
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. One wonders why, since she holds two separate rose stems, she was not instead named ‘Madonna with Roses“!
Back to the future again: this is the Madonna with Lace that 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 was the 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, 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. Cybis again gave this a new design number: 20080 for the color version, and 20081 for the white. As the photos above show, it appears that the rose could be either pink or yellow.
A handy cheat-sheet to identify the three issues of this madonna bust mold is:
4.5″ high, glazed (either plain white or color) = early/mid 1950s, design #201
4.5″ high, matte, plain white = 1960-1968, design #2080
4.5″ high, matte, color = 1968-probably 1963/64, design #2080
6.5″ high, matte (either plain white or color) = 1990s, design #s 20080 and 20081
I’m not sure what to make of this bust, which was among about two dozen Cybis at a brick-and-mortar auction sale in March 2022. Many, but not all, of the other pieces were 1980s or 1990s pieces and were most likely bought at the studio itself after they began selling direct in the 1990s. It has a modern (not ca.-1950s) Cybis signature and is the same size mold as the 1950s and 1960s Madonna with Lace Veil – except that this one has no lace veil and no rose decoration. The face decoration painting style is definitely post-1960 and it’s quite possible that this may have been made during the 1990s. In any case, it definitely isn’t from the 1950s and so it belongs here in the post-1960 group. Naming this one is pure guesswork; can’t call it a madonna with lace, or with lace veil, because there isn’t any. Small madonna bust without lace or rose sounds rather desperate, but does accurately describe it, so that’s the best we can do unless I come across a late 1980s or circa-1990s price list that says otherwise!
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 contact form link below 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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