The Cybis studio produced porcelain flower studies regularly throughout its history. Their roses, flower baskets and of course the one of a kind Flower Bouquet of the United States are shown in separate posts, but there are still plenty of other floral sculptures to browse through! They are shown below in chronological order by introduction year.
The 1971 exhibit catalog Cybis in Retrospect cites a small (6″high) glazed Flower Tree, circa 1940, as the “first porcelain created by Boleslaw Cybis in the United States.” Technically this is accurate if one takes the word “porcelain” as the determining factor, because there was a piece made even earlier: a Medieval Horse created by him in 1939. However, that piece was made of his “papka” formula rather than traditional porcelain. (The horse is shown in the 1940s Papka post.)
There is one documented 1950s floral piece and I’m quite sure there were probably more. Berries on Bough is included in an abbreviated, name-only text list of verified Cybis sculptures but with no further information.
Two early Cybis bird studies feature a specific flower both in the design and the sculpture name: Azalea with Cerulean Warbler and Magnolia with Bird. The 1950s Birds post includes an image of the former but not the latter. Both are about 6″ high.
All of the following flower studies were introduced after 1960.
The lovely Golden Clarion (Lily) was a limited edition of only 100 which sold for $250 during its production run between 1961 and 1970. It is 11” high. (The sculpture in the detail photo has damage to one of the stamens.) Its sculpture number is not known.
There has been some confusion as to whether this was or was not produced on a wood base. Certainly more have been seen for sale on eBay, etc., without one. Unfortunately the “official” Cybis photograph that was used in their advertising materials was taken from an angle that makes it impossible to see whether there is a base or not. It has been determined that this piece was in fact produced on (or with) a wood base as shown in the first photograph, at least for a time, but whether this was consistent through the entire edition of 100 is not known. Golden Clarion #4 is signed and numbered on the underside which means that it could not have originally been attached to a base.
The sloppy underside edges of Golden Clarion #83 suggest that this piece was either originally attached to a base, OR was not attached but someone put green felt on the underside, which left residue when it was later removed.
The #88 Golden Clarion is on its original base and is signed on the back side of one of the leaves. This suggests that the earlier (first 25%? first 50%??) pieces may not have had a base but the later ones did.
Iris was a limited edition of 250 between 1963 and 1970. It is 16.5” and sold for $500 throughout. The Cybis catalog does not mention alternate colorways, and so I do not know if there was a color change from the original (purple) color during production, or whether the yellow version in the second photo is a one of a kind. See the Narcissus below for an illustration of how the sculpture was made to fit into the specially designed wood base.
Magnolia, 4” high x 7” wide and designed by Lynn Klockner Brown, was introduced in 1963 in two versions: white bisque and “color” according to their 1978 catalog Appendix. In this case the term “color” apparently covered two colorways: one with a white flower and another with a pink. Neither their 1963 price list or any subsequent publications mentions there having been two colorways but the photos prove that there were. Thus, “color” meant either white or pink flowers. This version was retired in 1979, the price having risen from $67 at introduction to $310 at retirement. From 1963 until 1975, this sculpture came with an accompanying rectangular wood base; the 1974-1979 Magnolias did not have one.
This photo shows the white bisque version next to a white-flowered ‘color’ one. The white bisque Magnolia was made for only two years: 1963 to 1965. It sold for $45 and all of them came with an accompanying wood base.
Although it’s incredibly filthy in this photo, this is still undoubtedly a yellow Magnolia created as a test piece.
The branch element is the same one that Cybis had used several years earlier for their Goldfinch (shown in Later Birds.) This piece is often misidentified by online sellers as being a waterlily. This was an open edition, and is an entirely different sculpture from Magnolia ‘Southern Belle’, a limited edition from the 1980s shown below.
There are two slightly different sculpts of the Magnolia. The main difference is in the central boss of stamens and pistils (although the petal widths seem to be slightly different as well.) The first photo above shows the flower that has what I call the “heavier center”, versus the “lighter center” seen in the second example. They are clearly different but I have no clue when or why the change from one to the other was made.
To be completely precise, there were three sculpts/designs of this sculpture… although I have no idea whether the one shown below was actually put into production or was a prototype.
This photo is from the 1965 printing of a black and white Cybis catalog. Notice the difference in the shape of the petals and how the inner ones are open rather than upright. The two production versions each exhibit some characteristics of this early example.
The Blush Orchid was another open edition piece that was made in both white and “color”. It is 6” high and was made only in 1963, 1964 and 1965. The white version sold for $65 and the color for $75. But thereby hangs a tale…
After years of fruitless searching for a color photo of this piece, I now have one, thanks to the curators of the Cybis collection at the New Jersey State Museum. However, this long-awaited photo raises more questions because it makes me wonder if that black-and-white official Cybis photo shows the “white” or the “color” version! Obviously there is some color on the edge of the lip in that one, although the rest of the flower appears to be white. This runs contrary to the traditional usage of the terms “white” and “color” in Cybis literature, because 99.9% of the time, “white” means “plain white bisque with no color whatsoever”. And so, I had been assuming that the piece shown in the studio’s official photograph during the 1960s showed the “color” version because there clearly is some color on the leaves and the edge of the orchid’s lip.
However, the appearance of the Museum’s “color” Blush Orchid dispels that notion: The lip is almost entirely painted, and there is a blush of color at the base of the two upper petals. It’s obvious that for this particular sculpture, “white” means “an almost-entirely-white flower” rather than “an entirely-white-bisque sculpture.”
I was also surprised that this piece is not on a base, similar to the Golden Clarion Lily, but instead sits on its ‘back’, as these additional photos illustrate.
The Windflower was another open edition that had multiple colorways. The Cybis catalog Appendix lists this in two colorways: “white” and “color”, thus using the same anomalous interpretation of “white” as we just saw them do for the Blush Orchid during the same introduction year.
Here is a white version with the outermost row of petals completely green. It is the only one I have seen in which those petals are not the same color as the others.
This piece is 8” high and made its first appearance in 1963 (apparently 1963 was a banner year for Cybis flowers!). The white-flowered version sold for $35 and was retired in 1965. (Designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.)
The color version(s) began at $50 and continued to be produced until 1983. It’s not known whether all three of these colorways (white pink, reddish, and purple; at least one yellow/orange Windflower is also known to exist) were sold at the same time or whether over the two decades of production the colorway shifted from one to another.
The actual flower depicted is Anemone coronaria. According to a Cybis advertisement,
Long ago, one of the gods following the chase saw and fell in love with a beautiful lady. But she dreamed only of her true love who had ridden away to go around the world with the East Wind, promising ‘with the West Wind, I will come back to you.’ The beautiful lady turned her face away from the god while her little dog barked at him. So the god turned her into a Windflower, where she still bends after the West Wind, watching and waiting for her true love’s return. Her little dog was turned into a ladybug, which is shown on the Windflower’s leaf.
The Dahlia was a limited edition of 350 in 1964, at $450. The edition was completed in 1968 at $500. It is 12” high. Although the 1979 Cybis catalog does not mention it as having had more than a single colorway, the photos above clearly show that it was made in at least two: white, and a golden yellow. Each of the approximately 100 petals on the flower was individually created and applied by hand. It was designed by Marylin Chorlton, who plucked a full-blown dahlia from a local garden as her inspiration.
This gorgeous pink version is an artist’s proof and almost certainly one of a kind.
The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) was also a limited edition. It is 7.5”high and was made 1965 -1970 in an issue of 500. The edition began at $250 and was completed at $300. It was designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.
Examples vary slightly in the construction of the center of the flowers and it appears that the earlier ones (top photo) were more naturalistically delicate than the later versions. It’s possible the change was made as a result of production problems, with the redesigned ones (second photo) being less prone to breakage. (It’s unclear whether the missing central stamens were eliminated in production or were broken off.) The bottom photo shows actual hellebore flowers.
Calla (Lily) was also a limited edition of 500, and it sold for $750 throughout. Introduced in 1968, it was completed in 1974. It is 16.5” high. See the next sculpture (Narcissus) for an illustration of how the piece fit into its base.
Narcissus was another 1968 limited edition of 500. It sold for $350 until completion in 1973. The second photo shows how the sculpture fits into the separate wood base. The circular hole in the base is ringed with cork on the inside; the cork extends slightly above the upper surface so that the wood doesn’t actually touch the porcelain at all. A circle of grey felt was then applied to the inside bottom of the ‘well’, and also to the bottom of the Narcissus. The result is that the sculpture fits very snugly into the base but it still removeable if desired. The same construction method was used for the Iris and the Calla Lily, but apparently not for any other floral pieces afterward. (Designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.)
Mushroom ‘Jack-O-Lantern’ was an open edition made for only three years: 1970, 1971 and 1972. It is 7” high and sold for $225. There are two slightly different versions of this piece: Some have the butterfly perched on a mushroom cap, while on others it is on a leaf. The photo in the 1979 Cybis catalog shows it on the mushroom cap but because catalog photos were sometimes of prototypes that’s no indication of which position was first or next (the catalog photo actually shows the butterfly on a slightly different spot on the cap anyhow.)
The Dutch Crocus is 8.5” high and 10” long. This was a limited edition offered in 1970 in two named colorways: ‘Golden Goblet’ and ‘Blue Enchantress’. The designer was Lynn Klockner Brown. The Cybis catalog is a bit confusing as to the edition size per name. It indicates an initial declared edition of 700, which was halved to 350 before it closed in 1974 (the pricing going from $550 to $650 during that time.) However, it does not say whether the issue size was per colorway (350 of each) or per sculpture (350 total.)
Photos of this sculpture seem to inevitably be taken as a straight profile, with the result that the composition can look rather ‘flat.’ These picture angles show the flowers in a more interesting way, and also allow the oak leaf element to be better appreciated.
The two colorways in “matching poses”! Gardening nerds will know that Cybis’ chosen name of “Blue Enchantress” for an undeniably-purple crocus was a bit of a misnomer; there is only one truly blue crocus cultivar (Blue Pearl) which is a different species entirely. The Dutch crocus depicted by Cybis is Crocus vernus, while the actually-blue crocus is the earlier Crocus chrysanthus.
A watercolor portrait of Golden Goblet, by artist June Trezza.
A 1974 newspaper article mentions a Cybis piece named Snowden Crocus presented as a gift to Princess Margaret when she visited Canada that year. This may have been a one of a kind piece, or it may have been a special colorway or adaptation of the Dutch Crocus; there was no photo with the article.
Cybis obviously liked the two-colorway format because their next introduction was titled Pansies ‘China Maid’ (yellow) with butterfly which clearly indicated that they intended to also create more than one color of it. A limited edition of 1000 for $275 from 1972 – 1974, it is 7” high.
This was the official Cybis photo of ‘China Maid’ and it differs slightly from the actual retail version in that the main bloom is constructed differently: the lateral (central two) petals are smaller and held more horizontally, allowing the posterior (two rear) petals to be seen. In the retail version, this was changed so that only the upper edge of the rear petals are seen. The painting was also changed, in that the delicate ‘whiskers’ were replaced by a solid black blotch. In my humble opinion, the ‘photo shoot’ flower is far more attractive than the ones that were made for retail! (It also appears to be lightly glazed, which may have been done purely for photography purposes but is misleading.)
This study can be assigned to the “flowers” category as well as to “birds.” American Crested Iris with Bob White Chick appeared in 1972 as an edition of 500 which was reduced to 400 sometime before 1979; it had not yet been completed by that year although it may have been shortly thereafter. The issue price was $975 and the dimensions are 7.5” high x 10.5” wide. This piece was also designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.
And as expected, here is Pansies ‘Crinoline Lady (purple) with butterfly, which was introduced the year after the completion of its yellow sibling. It too was a declared edition of 1000 but that was reduced to 600 before closing. Its issue price in 1975 was $295 and when completed in 1981 it was $395. I am still perplexed as to why Cybis used the plural (pansies) in a title that references a specific cultivar name! (It should properly be Pansy ‘Crinoline Lady’.)
This white Pansy is an artist proof/test piece which, frankly, I think is more attractive than either of the retail versions. Notice the different color of the leaves as well; here they are a blue-green reminiscent of some of the 1950s color schemes.
Apple Blossoms was an edition of 400 in 1977, at $350. It was completed in Spring 1981 at a hefty price increase of $510. This piece is 4” high and 8” long, and was a Lynn Klockner Brown design.
Cybis again played the ‘colorways game’ with Clematis (Mauve) which is an open edition introduced in the spring of 1977 and retired in the spring of 1978. It is 6” high and sold for $235.
Clematis (White) appeared in the autumn of 1978 at $235 and retired in spring of 1980 at $315. By now, you may be wondering why the studio didn’t avoid confusion by simply titling the 1963 pieces in the same format as these; e.g., as “Blush Orchid (white)”, “Blush Orchid (color)”, “Windflower (white)”, “Windflower (pink)”, and so on. The reasoning was that those earlier sculptures were all within the same single edition, whereas the ‘color-named’ ones (Clematis, Crocus, Pansies) were separate editions with their own issue and completion dates and their own price points.
Spring Bouquet is 9.25” high and was introduced in 1982 as an edition of 200 at $750. This beautiful piece is another Lynn Klockner Brown design. Completion date and final price are unknown; my guess is that it probably sold out quickly. (It does not appear on their early 1988 price list.) There is a YouTube video showing multiple views of this piece here.
This composite photo shows both sides of Camellia ‘Pink Taffeta’ which was a limited edition of only 50 from the mid 1980s, possibly circa 1985 because it appears in the 1986 Cybis catalog. It does not, however, appear on their 1988 price list and so I suspect it either sold out fast or production problems ended it early. It is 9” high and 7” wide.
Magnolia ‘Southern Belle’ is a limited edition of only 50 sculptures that was introduced in the mid-1980s. It appears in the 1986 Cybis catalog but does not appear in a 1988 price list, so probably sold out very quickly; pricing is unknown at present. Dimensions are given as 5″ (height) x 11″ although from this single photo it’s hard to tell whether that refers to diameter or length (if a branch extends behind the flower.) This is the official stock photo used by the studio.
Although in the stock/advertising photo the central section (carpels, stamens and pistils) appear to be all yellow, there seem to have been two painting versions of the actual retail piece. In the retail version this section is half yellow and half green — but sometimes the green is on the bottom, and sometimes it’s on the top!
This pink dogwood with nest and butterfly is a very slight adaptation of their Wood Wren With Dogwood which was produced from 1963-1981. This “birdless” piece may have been created for a retailer’s gallery event. The bird has been removed from the nest and replaced by a dogwood flower (which, frankly, looks very awkward and contrived; they’d have done better to remove the nest entirely and simply substitute the additional flower) and a butterfly has been added. In this later piece, the construction of the nest itself is entirely different: It’s clearly been cast as a single piece rather than utilizing “spaghetti strands” of porcelain. It’s not known whether this event piece was given a name, nor in what year it was produced. These two examples illustrate the very different effects that result from variations in the hand painting of Cybis pieces.
Here the dogwood/butterfly issue is shown with the Wood Wren for comparison.
The limited edition Pink Dogwood ‘Blush of Spring’, dating from the mid-1980s, is an expanded adaptation of the two pieces shown above. However, the flowers are entirely different in construction. This piece appears in the 1986 Cybis catalog as an edition of 50, measuring 6 3/4″ high and 9 1/2″ wide (the Wood Wren is 5 1/2″ high.) It is missing from a 1988 price list and so may — like several of the other flower studies — have been either sold out or closed quickly. Pricing is unknown.
This piece was sold as Iris despite there having been an entirely different previous (1960s) study by that very name. This is the only known instance of Cybis having used the exact same name for two different designs. This one is an non-limited edition measuring 5.75” high x 7.5” wide. It was introduced in 1988 at $425.
Mountain Laurel with Butterfly is 5.75” and uses the exact same ‘branch’ mold as their Holiday Rose with Holly which first appeared in 1987. This new piece was issued sometime between late 1988 and late 1993, because it appears on the latter price list for $375. Ironically, the aforesaid Holiday Rose was being sold by Cybis at the same time and for the same price point; one wonders if any purchasers noticed that the same branch was being used for both.
Water Lily with Frog is only 2.25” high; the frog is peeking out from the left-hand side of the flower. It is 4.25” wide and was shown in Cybis’ special 50th Anniversary brochure as a 1989 introduction at $325. Any pieces that were physically produced during 1989 will have the special backstamp shown in Signatures and Marks. This non-limited edition continued to be offered by Cybis until the studio ceased manufacturing in during the 2000s.
A sculpture named New Jersey Flower, the Violet was included in the short-lived New Jersey Collection in 1993. In the absence of any photographs, detailed speculation as to what this piece may have looked like may be perused in the separate New Jersey Collection post.
The following flower studies were never released at retail; they are either one-of-a-kind or one of a few sample pieces that were not taken further. Most were included in the 2019 liquidation of the Cybis studio’s backstock.
This lovely Morning Glory was never released as a retail edition; this is the original artist’s proof created by Lynn Klockner Brown from her personal collection. It is 3.75″ high.
Here is a pink-and-blue version. Notice the ladybug which isn’t visible in the all-blue artist’s proof.
The size of this lovely flower posy is unknown but judging by its relative size within the multi-piece auction lot in which it was offered, a 6” diameter is very likely.
The appearance of this golden yellow flower with seven-lobed foliage is maddeningly familiar, but for the life of me I just can’t place what species it is! This too is probably about 6” high.
These three small flower pieces probably date from the early 1990s when the studio was participating in the factory-tours trend. It would make sense for them to display a selection of small ‘affordable’ items for visitors with more limited budgets.
Unfortunately the auctioneer’s photos are very overexposed and so I’m uncertain of the color of the largest bloom. It looks more or less white or perhaps very pale yellow, and to my eye it appears more like a daylily (Hemerocallis) than a true lily. It’s doubtful that any of these small items were named – they don’t appear on any standard Cybis retail price list that I have – and so I’ll call that one a daylily bloom at this point. The yellow flower stem is definitely a lily, so that is a yellow lily stem. No dimensions were provided for any of these, but the third piece (the trio of pink, blue and yellow water lilies) may offer a clue. If this is the same water lily that Elaine, Lady of the Lake holds in her hands, each is about 1” in diameter and the sizes of the other pieces can be estimated from that.
Finding this pink lily in a past-auction-sale listing (whilst looking for something else entirely) was totally unexpected, because I have never seen it before. It’s no surprise that it is marked as an A.P. (artist’s proof); this was never released by the studio at retail. There were only these two photos and the description Cybis flower, 4″ which I am assuming refers to the height. A truly fascinating aspect of this piece is the anthers, which look as though the studio may have been experimenting with using a wire or metal component — something that Boehm did regularly during the 1980s but Cybis is not known to have used on any retail piece.
A number of the post-1960 bird studies also incorporated a specific flower or plant in the design and the sculpture name. In addition to the iris-and-bobwhite and Wood Wren shown above, they were the Blue Headed Vireo with Lilac, Clematis with House Wren, Golden Crown Kinglets with Crab Apple, Golden Winged Warbler with Andromeda, Goldfinch with Violets, Hermit Thrush with Cranberry Cotoneaster, Kinglets on Pyracantha, and Nestling Bluebirds on Cockspur Hawthorn. All of these are illustrated in Cybis Later Birds.
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