The horse was featured throughout the Cybis Studio’s history; a few equines even appear as early Papka pieces created in the 1940s. This post will focus only on the ‘real’ horse studies; the mythological equines are shown in Unicorns and Pegasi, and the Carousel Horses are profiled separately as well. I have sorted these Cybis equines here by decade of introduction (1940s through 1990s.)
I am including the very first known Cybis horse in this decade even though it was created in 1939, the year in which Boleslaw and Marja Cybis came to America to work on the Polish Pavilion at the Worlds’ Fair. This is the Medieval Horse made as a papka protype (one of a kind.) It is only 7” high and was sold as part of the studio’s liquidation in late 2019.
This photograph of it, which appears in the 1971 museum exhibit catalog Cybis in Retrospect, is misleading because it appears to show it attached to a wood base (as some later Cybis horses would be) – but the figure was only placed on the base for photography purposes. No attachment was done. Unfortunately, the 2019 photo shows that several pieces were broken off during the intervening decades, no doubt from poor handling and/or storage at the studio where it resided during those years.
This stylistic Horse in Horseshoe Shape is from the 1940s, done in their so-called “papka” material with applied decorations; more items in this medium are shown in 1940s Papka and Early Porcelain post.
A selection of 1940s porcelain horses with various whimsical decorations. These were sold in retail stores such as B. Altman and John Wanamaker. In the 1971 museum catalog these would be considered part of the studio’s “folklore animals” range.
This small terracotta horse was made and signed by Marja Cybis (the MC monogram) during the 1940s.
The Spring 1963 price list from Cybis contains the first two equine sculptures but, strangely, they are not under the “Animals” heading but instead listed under “Objects d’Art” with various human figures. The logic of this classification utterly escapes me! However, a few years later they have trotted over to the Animals heading.
The Horse in white bisque measures 12” h x 15” w. It was introduced in 1961 as an edition of only 100 which was completed in 1965 and sold for $150 throughout. The example in this photograph is missing the wood base that originally came with the sculpture.
Horse Head ‘Racer’ was offered in both the color version and in white Parian porcelain. The white version sold for $75 and the color for $90. Approximately 12” high, it is noted as having come with a base in Cybis in Retrospect but the 1979 Cybis catalog list does not mention one. The original working name for this piece may have been Stallion’s Head because the very first (1964 Worlds Fair Commemorative) Cybis catalog contains a picture of it with that name in the caption. However, the aforementioned Spring 1963 price list shows it as Horse Head “Racer.” Production years were, by all reliable indications, 1962-1965.
Thoroughbred, 14” high, is a completed edition of 350 from 1966–1972. It was priced from $425–$475 and was designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.
The Stallion, 10” tall and another Lynn Brown design, had a declared edition of 500 in 1968 (at $475) but only 350 were made before the studio closed the issue in 1974 at $550. This sculpture was apparantly available in two different retail colorways, at least for a time, although the Cybis catalog does not mention this but only says “color”. The majority of the Stallions were produced in dapple grey as in the first photo. However, others were done in chestnut as shown in the second example. The third example is a bay Stallion that was marked as an artist’s proof.
Colts ‘Darby and Joan’ with accompanying velvet-topped wood base which, frankly, is barely wide enough for the sculpture. This 9.5” open edition was introduced in 1969 at $250 and retired in 1973 at $295. It has always bothered me a bit that although the sculpture’s title says they are “colts” (meaning young male horses), one of them has a filly’s (female) name! Perhaps Cybis intended it as the colloquial phrase “Darby and Joan” which describes an “elderly maried couple living in harmony” –– but that also seems incongruous because the subject here is a pair of young horses!
Apparantly there was an evolution of sorts with the decoration, from a definite blaze gradually reducing over time to a medium sized and finally an extremely small white star.
Nashua was sold with an accompanying solid wood base as shown in this photograph and measuring 16” high overall. However, examples are sometimes offered for sale with the original base missing; in which case the sculpture itself stands just under 13” tall. Originally having a declared limited edition of 500 in 1971, only 100 were made before the edition was closed five years later. This is probably one of the biggest reductions of a declared edition size in Cybis history! However, the retail price remained at $2000 throughout. The brass plaque on the base reads NASHUA Horse of the Year 1955, Bay Horse 1952 *Nasrullah ~ Segullah by Johnstown . The asterisk designates Nasrullah as Nashua’s sire, and Segulla (sired by Johnstown) as his dam.
This sculpture is extremely unusual because contrary to usual Cybis practice it also bears a name other than the Cybis studio’s. The photo above shows the normal Cybis painted signature and sculpture number as well as two mold impressions: the copyright year of 1970 (it is not unusual for the actual introduction year to be the year after the copyright registration) and also the name “J N Slick”. I have uncovered two different Nashua sculptures bearing this name impression, so it seems as if it was “standard procedure” for this piece (if anyone has a Nashua without this impression, please send me photos!) for some reason. So who is or was J. N. Slick? Thanks to Google we find that James Nelson Slick (1901-1979) was an artist noted for his paintings and sculptures of racehorses.
This is the signature from a James Slick oil painting. Although it appears as if the artist “signed” each Cybis Nashua in the mold, this could not have been the case because Mr. Slick lived in California at the time that Nashua was produced in New Jersey by Cybis, and I have been told that he did not travel to the studio during either the design or production phase. So the in-mold signature was applied by Cybis, no doubt pursuant to an agreement between the artist and the studio; perhaps Mr. Slick supplied a mold stamp for their use. I am not aware of any other Cybis piece on which the artist’s name is shown, including Laszlo Ispanky — in fact, the studio’s refusal to allow him to sign his work was a major cause of their eventual “parting of ways.” Cybis must have really really wanted him to sculpt this piece for them, to make that concession! An artist’s proof of Nashua was presented to the Governor of Kentucky in 1974 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the running of the Kentucky Derby.
Here is the Appaloosa Colt, an open edition produced from 1971–1975, 9” high, and designed by Susan Eaton. Two different ‘official’ Cybis photographs of this sculpture exist. The 1979 catalog (first photo) shows him placed on a base which appears to be the same velvet-topped one that was used with Darby and Joan. However, the actual production piece did not have a base, and is exactly as the second photo shows: All porcelain, including the horse and its porcelain base section. Perhaps Cybis decided in the interim between the first photo shoot and actual production to make that change, or perhaps there actually were a very few rare wood-base Appaloosa Colts sold. The retail price rose only by $5 during those four years (from $145 to $150.)
The Pinto Colt was also issued with a velvet-topped accompanying base. These three horse sculptures (Darby and Joan, the Pinto Colt and possibly the very first Appaloosa Colts) were the only ones that Cybis ever issued with a velvet-topped base. Made from 1972–1975, the Pinto Colt’s price rose fairly modestly from $150 to $175. He is 5.5” high (without base); as demonstrated by the second photo, he is most often seen for sale nowadays without his original base than with it! Designed by Susan Eaton.
(A related equine test piece of a Zebra that is quite similar to the Pinto Colt can be seen in The Rest of the Cybis Menagerie.)
Performing Pony ‘Poppy’ was produced from 1976–1979 as an edition of 1000 priced at $325. Height is six inches. Some Cybis literature re-words her name as Poppy the Performing Pony. Designed by Susan Eaton.
‘Satin’ Decorated Horse’s Head on base is 13” high overall; an edition of 500 that was made for only four years (1978-1981). Satin’s introduction price was $1100. Designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.
The Circus Rider, Equestrienne Extraordinaire, 13” high, had a declared edition of 500 in 1979 at $2775, but the edition was quickly reduced to only 150 before closing at a final price of $2995 in late 1981. The Percheron horse is an adaptation of a maquette by Carl Paul Jennewein; the Cybis studio purchased several of these maquettes from him during the 1960s. The porcelain sculpture/adaptation was done by Lynn Klockner Brown.
After the Circus Rider there followed a hiatus of several years until the next Cybis equine introduction.
Dapple Grey Foal, 7” tall, an open edition designed by Susan Eaton, issued in 1986 at $195 and retired in 1994 or early 1995.
Remember Lord Bentley, the 1987 unicorn shown in Unicorns and Pegasi? Well, it seems that His Lordship was up to some hanky-panky in the Cybis design room…with the following three “offspring” being the result!
Here we have an unnamed/unidentified black horse with gold decoration. He is, of course, Lord Bentley sans horn and in a different colorway. In fact, the mold has the same 1987 copyright impression. The ribbon along the back has been replaced by a single gold tassel. Height is 6.5”, the same as Lord Bentley.
Here the Cybis artists had a bit of fun with Lord Bentley by making two of his molds into a Rocking Horse! These were either just-for-kicks pieces or perhaps made solely for distribution amongst the studio employees during the 1980s. [two lower photos courtesy of the Museum of American Porcelain Art]
This is Black Beauty from the Anna Sewell novel, an open edition that was issued in 1988 at $275 but was retired before autumn 1993. He was one of the first three sculptures in a new, but short-lived, series of all-black pieces grouped under the heading of “The Midnight Collection.” Again, this is Lord Bentley.. or rather, one of his offspring because in this mold his head has been repositioned so that he now looks straight ahead rather than with neck arched downward. This change makes Black Beauty taller than his “dad”; according to the price list he is 7.75″ high.
This glazed Black Beauty, seen here behind his normal bisque counterpart, was probably just a test piece.
Pony and Children was 8” high non-limited edition from 1988 at $575 that was retired before the end of 1993. This was one of the last pieces designed by Lynn Klocker Brown while she was still at the Cybis studio.
This sweet little Girl on Pony is a test piece, likely from the 1980s as well. It was never sold at retail and its dimensions are not known. It would not be surprising to learn that this was designed by either Lynn Brown or Sue Eaton.
Undoubtedly the most impressive equestrian sculpture Cybis ever created is the Knight in Shining Armor, a declared edition of only 25 which was never fully completed. At least 10 are known to have been made, and that #10 piece was physically created in 1989 because it bears the 50th Anniversary stamp. The sculpture is 25″ high and 18.5″ wide. Although this sculpture appeared on a 1993 price list for $27,500 the example shown above sold at auction in January 2019 for only $1500 despite being in mint condition.
Despite its introduction year of 1989, the Cybis price lists claimed that this piece was “created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Boleslaw Cybis.” The problem is the math: Boleslaw was born in 1895, and so his 100th birthday wouldn’t occur until 1995. So either the piece was not originally created for that purpose (it makes no sense to have issued it six years early!) or someone at Cybis got their founder’s birthday wrong.
This rare photograph, taken inside the studio, shows the sculpture in the very early stages of its design in clay. Compare the incredible detail in the finished piece to this original clay model to fully appreciate the work still ahead to be done by Mrs. Brown before it was even ready for the first molds to be made! Also note, in the lower right corner, the original clay model of another Lynn Brown design: the lovely Madonna with Lily which can be seen in its finished state in Madonnas Part 2.
A probable version of Lord Bentley/Black Beauty but in a different colorway was offered as New Jersey Animal, The Horse as part of the short-lived New Jersey Collection during the 1990s. See this post for more information and speculation about this piece.
This ridiculously tiny photo is of the Circus Horse Trio ‘Showtime’ which is actually 9.75” high and as wide. Most likely introduced in 1990, this had a declared limited edition of 2000 — an uncharacteristically large quantity for a Cybis. However, a 1993 price list does show it that way, priced at $975. The edition was never completed but I have no idea how many the studio actually did make before shutting down. I hope to someday find a much better — and much larger — picture of this piece, and when I do the sculpture number will no doubt also provide a clue.
And finally we have the Little Foal. Look familiar? He is Black Beauty (a/k/a Lord Bentley with altered head position and no horn) but this time in a white coat with a light grey mane and tail. He was a non-limited edition just as were the other iterations. Price lists show that his first appearance must have taken place in either 1994 or spring 1995; his price was $295. However, the foal is a downsized copy (via the process described in Upsize, Downsize) of the Black Beauty mold because he is only 6.5″ high.
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