Angels and cherubs emerged from the Cybis studio ever since its earliest days in 1940s New York where Boleslaw and Marja Cybis created their “papka” frescoes and sculptures. The angels below are listed chronologically. None of them were limited editions.
An intriguing group of six angels produced between 1940 and 1942 in “papka” composition was the Angelic Orchestra, which is so unusual that it has been given its own separate post.
This photograph of Marja Cybis sculpting a large papka angel was taken at their first atelier within the Steinway Mansion in Astoria (Queens), NY. Judging from the photo, the angel must have been between two and three feet tall! However, on a background shelf appearing at the upper left of Marja’s head there appears to be a smaller version which is probably about a foot high.
That angel may well be the same one cited, but not illustrated, in the same catalog as Angel which is described as having a “pastel fresco decoration of soft pink, blue, mauve and yellow” – perhaps the same colors as the Angelic Orchestra – and being 11” high. Smaller angels listed but not shown, and all from the same 1940-1942 period, are an 8” high pastel Angel and another cited simply as Angels, decorated in soft pink and blue but only 3” high.
This may well be the piece that was cited as a papka Angel with Halo made in two sizes: 6″ and 8″. The style is very typical of many of the pieces made by Marja Cybis at that time. The signature on the back is a modern one that was added by the studio during a later decade.
This one is Angel with Flowers and stands 11”-12” high. The black-and-white photo is from Cybis in Retrospect; the others are of the actual sculpture and show that part of her ribbon sash was broken off in the years after the ca. 1971 photo was taken. The papka pieces are very fragile and prone to breakage.
A somewhat bizarre papka angel with airplane was among the 1940s items in the studio’s final liquidation. It would be logical to assume that its inspiration may have been the outbreak of World War II.
A classified ad in the November 1984 issue of the New Yorker magazine offered a “Cybis one-of-a-kind signed-and-dated set of three papka angels, was $10,000, now $4995.” Unfortunately that was the extent of the description; no dimensions and no photographs.
Moving into the 1950s, there is a Herald Angel that was part of the first Cybis nativity set from that decade. This angel was placed at the top of a tree; photographs will be added in December 2019. The piece is 9″ high overall (angel + tree) and was made in color and in plain white bisque. The image above is only of a hobbyist example of this angel; Cybis bought their 1950s nativity molds from the Atlantic Mold Company. The angel itself is about 5″ high.
Two different pair of 1950s-early 1960s cherubs deserve further investigation.
This pair of cherub heads was made to be hung on the wall and originally dates from the first half of the 1950s. They are signed with the “Cybis” and “fine china” stamps, both of which marks are typical of the studio at that time. These have strong Cordey overtones in both style and material and so my guess is these were made just as the studio was transitioning from Cordey to Cybis. The heads are 4.5″ and 4.75″ high, and 4.5″ wide. This was not a Cybis original design but was one of several that they purchased from local mold-making companies. There is some good evidence (although not confirmed) that the design number for this pair was 233, with an added L and R for ‘left’ and ‘right.’
A recently discovered 1963 Cybis price list includes, under the Decorative Accessories heading, Cherub Heads, [size] 4″, $10/pair. This should be a slam-dunk identification for the above heads except for the fact that they are indicated as being available in plain white bisque only. Now, it may well be that the color version had been discontinued by that time; no cherubs survived into the 1967 price list which is the next one that I have. So it’s likely the 1963 price list is referencing the white bisque version of the pair shown above. The design code for this pair is given as #735.
A one-page text/name only list of verified sculptures in a 1974 Cybis catalog mentions these cherub heads but also lists Angel Heads as a separate item. These could conceivably have been either wall mounted heads, like the cherubs, or perhaps busts. The fact that they are listed as plural (“heads”) indicates they were sold as a pair. It is possible that “Angel Heads” could refer to another pair of cherubs sold as plaques (according to Cybis in Retrospect, anyway) from 1954-1962. According to the 1979 catalog appendix they measured 5.5” x 7” (larger than the cherub heads pictured) and were sold as a pair either in white bisque at $30, or in color (whose price went from $42.50 to $50). The production run years were the same for both.
The Spring 1963 price list also shows, under the “Objects d’Art” heading, Cherubs, [size] 8“, sold as a pair and assigned design codes 425 and 426. They were available in white bisque for $75/pair and in color for $100/pair. The price and size suggest that these were probably full figures rather than heads or busts.
It’s unclear whether the “Cherubs (pair)” mentioned in Cybis in Retrospect as being 5” high and circa 1954 refers to any of the cherub designs mentioned above; if so, they were available in both white and “stained glass” color decoration.
The Cybis 1974 catalog name-only text list also includes a Seated Angels (pair) which I have never seen.
In the 1950s-giftware/decor category is this pair of angel candlesticks. Note the unusual star-shaped headgear and also that the candlecups they support have a definite tilt! The blue-painted base section is also rather uncommon. These are 8.75″ tall, with the footprint being 5″ x 3.5″. Their design numbers are 239 and 240 which puts them into the “religious items” genre,
Also from the 1950s is this sweet little glazed angel with rose decoration. She stands 5″ high and appears to have just a touch of gold trim on her collar.
This second example shows how the wing shading could vary between individual pieces.
Like almost all of Cybis pieces from that decade, this angel was cast from a commercially available mold, here shown with her matching “brother” angel on the left. Did Cybis produce him as well, or did they only use the girl-angel mold? I have never seen a male Cybis angel and so my guess is that they only made the girl. Both of these white ones are unmarked, are definitely not Cybis, and could have been either a retail pair or homemade by a hobbyist.
Another sweet circa-1950s celestial denizen is this angel with halo and rose bouquet. She is one of only two Cybis angel designs I have found so far who is wearing a halo; the other is shown later in this post. Another unusual attribute is that there is ‘background foliage’ painted onto her gown front immediately behind the bouquet she holds; a little extra detail over and above the applied pink rose and green leaves. This somewhat pensive little lady is 7.5″ high. Obviously we don’t know what her retail name was (if any) but her design code is #2097.
Another 1950s angel with the “decade-signature” pink rose decoration is this 4.5″ high singing angel with pigtails.
This is definitely cast from a Holland mold and even bears extremely faint traces of their name impression on the underside. This mold was used by at least two other studios as well as countless hobby potters. Another barely-visible mark is the design code in faded grease pencil; located at the 12 o’clock position in this photo, it is either 221 or 271.
This little 1950s reclining angel/cherub is certainly something different! She is 3.5″ high and was produced from a Holland Mold Company mold. Many thanks to the Museum of American Porcelain Art for sharing these photos; this little Cybis figure was included in the consignment of Boehm items that the Museum originally obtained from that studio’s backstock.
The Angels in Adoration were sold only as a pair, from 1953–1965. The Cybis 1979 catalog says that they were offered in white bisque only, but Cybis in Retrospect claims they were also offered in stained glass (color). I have never seen a color version but would like to; if any reader has one and would like to share a photo, please use the direct-contact form on the About the Archive page. This angel is 14” high. They originally sold for $100/pair and are done in what we think of as the classic Cybis style although it’s not known if this was an original Cybis studio design.
Many thanks to the Archive reader who sent these excellent photos of their pair of Angels in Adoration — the first time I have seen them together as they were originally sold! These are white bisque (unglazed.)
Despite what the 1979 Cybis catalog claims (it has been shown to be wrong in a few other instances as well), at least one of these angels was made in glazed white bisque!
The signature on some of these angels can provide clues as to when they were made. The glazed angel pictured also has the “eagle stamp” in the mold, as well as a model number which oddly does not correspond to the number given in the 1979 Cybis catalog for this piece! According to that publication the model number was 2507 but this angel is clearly marked 2006. And another mystery: Is the other marking an underlined W (for “white”, suggesting that there must have been color versions), or is it the number 31??? In any case these marks clearly date this particular angel to the early 1950s.
This is how the pair of bisque angels are signed. The hand-signing with a brush in brown paint is consistent with pieces produced in the 1960s, so these can be dated to 1960-1965. Notice, also, that the studio has begun applying felt to the base; the 1950s glazed angel does not have this. Given the presence of the eagle impression it’s possible that the earliest Angels in Adoration may have been glazed but switched to bisque fairly soon afterward.
The Guardian Angel is 12.5” high and was produced from 1954 to 1963. She was made in several colorways which leads me to think that the Angels in Adoration were probably done likewise, despite the Cybis catalog info. It is clear from Cybis’ Spring 1963 price list that the Guardian Angels were sold in pairs. The white bisque pair was $50 and the stained glass/color pair was $75 in that final year.
A red-and-gold stained-glass Guardian Angel.
This blue-and-green version is beautiful also; the fine detail of her hair is particularly enhanced.This example of a color Guardian Angel is wearing a different halo and is in a slightly different colorway: gold, blue, and red.
Notice that the color angels have a halo, but the white bisque one does not. I’d be curious to know whether there were any white bisque ones also made with a halo or whether it was only put onto the color versions. (It’s important to note that this is not the same sculpture as the identically-named but completely different Guardian Angel that was introduced by Cybis during the 1990s.)
The Kneeling Angels were made from 1958 to 1965, in white bisque as well as at least three different colorways. She is approximately 5” although Cybis in Retrospect gives the height as 5.5”. These were sold as a pair and appear in the very first (1964) Cybis print catalog. However, the photo of the blue-winged version is the only one I’ve discovered of an original pair; most seen nowadays are just a single angel. The 1963 price list shows the white pair at $10 but an unusual dual price for the color version: $15./$20.00 (transcribed exactly as printed). Could the gold-accented version have been one of those two pricepoints?
There followed a 15-year gap in Cybis angel introductions until Adoration appeared in 1981. It is 6” high and was made in white bisque for $325 and color for $375; by now all the color pieces had long since switched to the bisque (matte) finish rather than the high fired glaze. The baby is a separate mold which was also used for a separate Baby in Cradle giftware piece. This sculpture was retired before 1988.
This flying cherub was never released at retail and may be one of a kind. The style is so similar to that of Adoration that I would feel confident betting on the fact that both were designed by the same person during the same decade (1980s.) Dimensiions were not provided but a good guess would be about 4″ high.
Although Cybis first started their second Nativity series in 1982, an angel was not added until 1984. This is the Nativity Angel, kneeling and is 6.5” high. The introduction price was $275 for the white with gold, and $395 for the color version shown here. See the Nativity II post for later pricing on the nativity set angels.
Little Angel appeared in 1986 at $125 in color as shown. An additional white-with-gold version later appeared when she was added to the Nativity set, but I have never seen a photo of that colorway (if indeed any were made.) She is 7.5” high and was designed by William Pae.
In the mid to late 1980s Cybis also released Angel Annunciation. She is 9.5” high. Supposedly she was introduced in 1986 but neither the 1988 nor any of the 1990s price lists include her… so perhaps she was made for only one or two years.
The Nativity Angel II (standing) was added to the Nativity series in 1988 for $525. She is 9.75” high and is cast from the same body mold as the Angel Annunciation shown above. The wings are not identical but almost everything else (with very minor tweaks) is. The right arm of this angel is quite awkwardly placed due to the repositioning from the previous design as well. I believe it’s very possible that “Annunciation” was retired after only one year (1986-1987) and replaced by this reworked/renamed angel for the Nativity set.
By the year 2000 and later, the studio was relying heavily on reissues or cobbled-together versions of older pieces because they no longer employed any full-time artists. Such was the case for the Nativity Angel III which is the upper half of the Nativity Angel Kneeling simply plopped on top of the bottom half of the Nativity Angel II. She is about 10″ high and sold for $1195 in both colorways.
Supposedly part of the second nativity set even though stylistically she bears no resemblance whatever to the other angels is the Guardian Angel who was introduced in the early 2000s. I’m surprised that Cybis decided to name this piece exactly the same as a (different) sculpture that they had produced 40 years earlier, especially as it’s not even a Hall of Fame replica – all of which also have the designation “II” or “III” added to the replica’s name. The name is not the only puzzlement; the style is markedly different from what we typically see from Cybis.
In any event, this millennial Guardian Angel was added to the nativity set in both color and white-with-gold at $895. She is also noticeably taller than the other two standing angels, at 12.75” high.
For some reason, this piece bears two different mold-impression years: The underside of her skirt/gown/feet (upper photo) has a copyright year of 2001, while the back of her cape mold says 2002. I have absolutely no explanation for this.
This cherub on a cloud was disposed of during the 2019 liquidation of the studio’s backstock. Based on the cloud-and-heart design of the base, this was probably physically created in the 1980s or 1990s; it never made it to any retail sale lists. However, the cherub himself was taken from a much older piece:
It was originally the separate baby Jesus mold from the 1950s House of Gold madonna and child. This has also earned the mystery-cherub piece a spot in the Body Snatching post!
Cybis also issued a number of angel holiday ornaments during the 1980s and 1990s. The first was an annual series of four, starting in 1985; all were designed by Lynn Klockner Brown. Unlike other Cybis items, these were sold in a specially designed satin-lined gift box and were only available during their individual issue year.
This was the first (1985) Angel Ornament which was priced at $75. She is 4” high. These annual ornaments have a flat base so that they can be displayed standing as well as hanging.
These are two artist’s proof colorways of this ornament; the one on the right differs from the production version via the pearlized glaze on the lace trim.
The presentation boxes were contoured to fit the specific ornament.
The complete set of four is shown. At the center front is the 1988 Angel Ornament which is 3.75” high. From left to right along the back row: 1986 Angel Ornament at 4” high, 1987 Angel(s) Ornament which at 4.75” is the tallest; and the aforesaid 1985 Angel Ornament. The 1987 Ornament was given the name Heavenly Angels and sold for $125.
Two colorways of the 1986 Angel Ornament are known: green (which may have been the standard retail version) and blue. The angel’s eye color matches the bow.
Unfortunately the photos on the Cybis website’s listings did not always match the names attached to them. For example, the ornament pictured above was listed there as “Angel Ornament with Harp”, at 3” high and selling for $75 in plain white bisque or $125 if “embellished with gold” (which seems to be what is shown above). Because there is no evidence of a harp anywhere on this piece, I’m going to assume for the moment that the name was an error and should instead have been Angel Ornament with Star Halo; that would make sense, whereas “harp” absolutely does not. This ornament, like the larger angel heads, has a flat bottom enabling it to stand on a surface as well as to be suspended from the halo-opening. Perhaps she was meant to be the “little sister” of the slightly larger annual angels!
This angel ornament was available in two colorways but again their single very tiny website photograph was less than helpful. One was titled Blue Boy Cherub, First Edition and the other as Pink Girl Cherub, Second Edition. I assume they were issued at least a year apart, because Cybis switched from assigning specific years to many of their items and instead titles them as ‘editions’ instead. Both editions were introduced between 1990 and 1993, and a 1993 price list shows them at $175. Size was given as 5” high. I have never seen either of these offered for sale elsewhere, so if anyone has a photo to share I would be grateful for the chance to improve upon this miniscule image!
Another gender-colorways angel ornament on the same list and also (but not pictured) on the site: Angel Child, available in either pink or blue at $150 each. It is supposedly only 3.75″ high.
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