The Cybis Classical Impressions Series

Among the various Cybis porcelain ‘genres’ (generalized categories) there is a small group called the Classical Impressions. All except two were limited editions, and most were introduced during the 1980s.

LEDA AND THE SWAN by CybisLeda and the Swan is 9” high and 13” wide on its base and was a declared limited edition of 500 white bisque sculptures at $1450 in 1986. It is one of the first three pieces in that “collection.” By 1988 Cybis had altered the editions to 500 in white bisque for $1750, plus a new edition of 200 color versions for $2250. Both editions were closed (probably not completed) between spring 1996 and spring 1999. I have never seen a photo of the “color” Leda but would very much like to; perhaps only a very few were made.

ICARUS by CybisIcarus by Cybis view 2Icarus by Cybis view 3Icarus is a much larger sculpture: 19” high overall, 15” deep and 18” wide. Also a declared limited edition of 500, it’s possible that the edition size was reduced before closing. His original 1986 issue price was $1800 but by 1988 it had risen to $1950. Between 1989 and 1992 an additional color edition was added to this as well. Their 1993 price list shows a single edition of 500, divided in an unknown way between white sculptures at $2600 and color ones for $3500. Both versions were closed between Fall 1996 and Spring 1999. (I would love to see a color version of this too, if any were actually made.) An interesting side note about this sculpture is that it was designed by a young man who had previously worked for Industrial Light & Magic’s model shop creating some of the models used in the original 1970s Star Wars movies!

There were three  martial-arts sculptures within this Classical Impressions series.

TANG DYNASTY THE STUDENT by CybisThe name of this piece is Tang Dynasty ‘The Student’. It appears in the initial 1986 Classical Impressions brochure. It is 9.5” high and came with a separate black Lucite base (5″ x 12″) which was a first for a Cybis piece. Initially priced at $950, the declared issue was 750 white bisque sculptures; the brochure cited it as “first in a series of three.” A 1988 Cybis price list shows the name simply as Tang Dynasty – Figure I …..and, just like Leda, in two color options and different edition sizes: white bisque as an edition of 500 for $995 and also a “color” version in a smaller 200-piece edition for $1395.  As of the Fall 1990 price list, neither were still being offered for sale.

TANG DYNASTY II martial arts by Cybis view 1tang-dynasty-ii-view-2tang-dynasty-ii-detailTang Dynasty II ‘The Nobleman’ was introduced in 1987 at $975 in white bisque. It is 13″ high and 10″ wide as a result of the fighter’s stance. This piece too came with a black Lucite base. This was shown as available in either white bisque edition of 500 or a color edition of 200 (at $1395), so clearly the studio had rather quickly made a marketing decision shift re: edition sizes, colorways and pricing after the initial series launch. The 1987 brochure still claims that this would be a series of three.

Tang Dynasty III does not appear on any Cybis price list or brochure that I have, and so I don’t know if he had an additional title. Despite the studio’s promise of a third figure, it may be that he was never produced for retail. If he was, he must have been introduced in either Fall 1989 or Spring 1990 because none of the Tang Dynasty figures appear on the Fall 1990 list or any list afterward. The pieces shown above were in the 2019-2020 studio liquidation auctions, and so may be merely samples.  If anyone happens to have one of these with a sculpture number on it (or a 1990 price list that includes it) that would show that this was indeed a retail item, albeit a short-lived one.

If anyone has a photo of the color version of Leda, Icarus, or the first two Tang figures please let me know (there is a contact form link below) because I’d love to add it here.

Dream of Venus was also placed into the Classical Impressions category. Introduced in 1988 in the same color/edition size format as the T’ang figures, the 500-edition white bisque was $950 and the 200-edition color was $1475. In 1990 the studio combined both colorways into a single edition of 500. By 1993 the colorway prices were $1275 and $1975, which the studio raised significantly to $2975 and $3500 in early 1990s. It is unlikely that many were sold at those price points!!

THE ACROBATS by CybisTHE ACROBAT by Cybisthe-acrobats-as-bookends The Acrobat appeared in 1991 and is one of only two non-limited Classical Impressions designs. It was offered as a single acrobat at $575 without a base, and at $675 if on one.  Also offered was The Acrobats (pair as bookends) for $1150 – in other words a savings of $200 for the pair. The Acrobat is 9.25” high and 8” wide at the base which appears to be black wood.  I have no idea why these are signed on the wood base (see second photo) rather than on the sculpture itself; I have never seen the signature on a wood base before. Perhaps the figures are glued to the base and the assumption was made that they would/could not be separated from it?

An autumn 1993 introduction was Yoga, Girl in Motion for $575; she is the only other non-limited Classical Impressions piece. I have never seen a photo, but her size is cited as 9.25″ high x 6.5″ wide. That makes it the same height as The Acrobat although a little less wide; The Acrobat is supposedly 8″ wide but as usual Cybis did not specify whether their cited height is only for the porcelain or includes an attached base as well. The Yoga entry does not mention a base. Obviously this is a female in a yoga pose but that’s all we can surmise about it until/unless one shows up for sale on eBay. By the time the Fall 1995 price list was issued, the “yoga girl” had been retired, never to be seen again.

This is a piece that may have also originally been intended for the Classical Impressions series but it was never released. Logic dictates that it should be dubbed Nude with Plinth. The plinth mold is the same that was used for Beau Brummel, but with the column re-worked so that it has fluting instead of scrolls, shells and foliage. At least here we have a copyright year: 1997. This is not on Cybis’ Fall 1997 or May 1999 retail price lists, nor do I ever remember seeing it on their web site (which was not updated after 2008 and disappeared entirely in late 2018.) It is possible that it may have made a very brief appearance during 1998, or in the studio’s early-2000s eBay storefront. The piece shown above was among those in their 2019 liquidation sale.

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