This final category of religious studies in Cybis porcelain looks at their saint figures as well as miscellaneous items such as plaques and holy water fonts. The vast majority of the items shown below date from the 1950s. All of them were open (non-limited) editions except for the 1981 limited edition of Saint Peter. The 1950s madonnas, post-1960 madonnas, and Jesus figures (including crucifixes) have their own posts.
Important note: Almost all (probably 99%) of the Cybis religious sculptures that first appeared during the 1950s were cast from commercially available molds that the studio purchased from companies such as Holland Mold and Atlantic Mold; they were not original Cybis studio designs. There were a few notable exceptions such as the Holy Child of Prague and the House of Gold, but the majority of the 1950s introductions were cast from mass-market molds that were also being used by other companies as well as home hobbyists.
This category includes traditionally shaped plaques and wall-mounted heads/busts.
This pair of Jesus and Mary wall busts from the 1950s each measure 4.25” x 4.75” and are stamped Cybis Fine China in blue on the reverse of both. It is highly likely that Cybis may have sold them under the names of “Sacred Heart” and “Immaculate Heart” although this is unconfirmed.
Additional photos of this pair of rococo cherub placques can be seen in the Angels post. They are 6.75″ high and had separate design numbers: 266 for the cherub holding the ribbons, and 267 for the one holding a wreath.
This rather unusual book shaped plaque with madonna and child was made to hang on a wall rather than being a desktop item. It is 5.5″ x 4.5″ and bears design code 243. Additional views are in the 1950s Madonnas post.
The circular Holy Ghost Dove Plaque dates from 1954 (possibly made only for one year?) and is 8.5″ diameter. Unfortunately this single black & white photograph provides no hint of what the disk’s background color was; it may have been a very dark green, as found in other pieces from those years, or another dark color. There is no indication in the Cybis catalog that it was wood, but that is certainly another possiblity because we know they were putting dark wood halos on some pieces. Further confusion is provided by the 1979 catalog which lists two colorways: white at $25, and stained-glass color at $40. If that refers only to the background color and not the dove, that indicates the background was probably not wood.
Two similar plaques, Lamb of God and Crucifix, are discussed in the Jesus figures post.
The Oremus Hands plaque is a reproduction of the famous 16th-century Albrecht Durer pencil drawing. Cybis appears to have used molds purchased from two different mold companies for this item. This one was made from a mold sold by the Ludwig Schmid Mold Company, and has the Durer initials AD in the mold. The photo above is taken from a 1973 dealer offering of second-market Cybis pieces and was described as “color”, meaning it wasn’t white bisque or white glazed. The framing is almost certainly not from Cybis.
Here is another Oremus Hands in what may well be their “Cypia” brown tones. Was this what was meant by ‘color’?? We don’t know. This mold lacks the AD component and appears to have been obtained by Cybis from the Holland Mold company. (Both the Holland and Schmid companies were located in Trenton.) It appears from the back of the plaque that it was meant to simply hang on a nail via the top hole. The 2084 is the Cybis design number. (Any lighter areas in the upper photo are reflections from the glazed surface.)
Turning to the modern era, the Moses the Great Lawgiver Plaque was one of two similar limited edition framed plaques issued in 1981, the other depicting the Holy Child of Prague. Both are based on earlier Cybis sculptures.
A few years later the Holy Family Plate appeared in 1989. Pricing details for all of these items can be found in Plates and Plaques.
Holy Water Fonts
Cybis produced four slightly different holy water fonts during the same timeframe and probably concurrently. All were introduced during the 1950s and all were retired in 1964.
The Holy Water Font ‘Holy Ghost’ is illustrated in the 1979 Cybis catalog and described as “bisque/glazed white” selling for $15. Height is given as 11″. This is the same dove mold as used in the Holy Ghost Dove Plaque with the addition of a shaped basin for water below. As for the dark-colored mounting material, again there’s no indication of whether it was dark wood or dark painted porcelain. (The ribbed white element in the photo is not part of the item.) The unpictured Lamb of God holy water font featuring a young Jesus was of the same style.
A entirely different design was used for the Holy Water Font ‘Our Lady of Grace’ which is clearly all porcelain. It’s also smaller, being 9″ high overall. Roughly calculating on a proportional basis from the photograph, the madonna figure is probably a bit more than 4.25″ high. This font sold for $10 during production.
A fourth font which was mentioned only in their 1974 catalog text list is Holy Water Font ‘Crucifixion’ with no other details given although it was retired before 1963. The choice of the word “crucifixion” rather than “crucifix” for the name of this item suggests that it may be a multi-person scene rather than only a cruficix by itself.
Many different saints marched out of the Cybis studio, probably more than will ever be fully documented because no doubt many were done as special commissions for specific churches. To date, the known ones follow. All date from the 1950s except for the final two, which are original (later) Cybis designs portraying Saint Peter. By the time the Spring 1963 price list was printed, all of the 1950s saints had been discontinued except for one Saint Francis figure.
The ever-popular Saint Francis has at least three iterations and probably several more yet undiscovered. St. Francis Xavier is 11.5″ high including all portions of the base. Retired before 1963.
St. Francis with Doves is 12″ high and 5.5″ wide overall. A dove perches on each shoulder and there may be a flower or plant at his feet (hard to discern from the photo scan.) Cybis in Retrospect lists the following colorways: “white, decorated, glazed, decorated.” Retired before 1963.
An expanded version of the previous piece is St. Francis with Doves and Lambs. The use of a larger (7.25″ wide x 3″ deep) base enabled the addition of more wildlife. This was their design number 2085.
This is a glazed, color version of the same piece. The height of this piece is is 13.5″ This Saint Francis was produced from the 1950s until 1964. The 1963 price list proves that, contrary to what the Cybis 1978/79 catalog Appendix says, there were two colorways: plain white bisque for $30, and a color one for $40.
Here is another example of the glazed color version, with a more consistent shading and toning on his robe. Notice that for this larger version the original Saint-Francis-only mold was simply set (round base and all) onto the larger oval base — thereby accounting for the additional 1/5″ in height. Notice, too, that in this example one of the lambs has black-trimmed ears whilst the other does not! 😉
Saint Patrick was made in at least two colorways of lighter and darker green. He is 13.5″ high which puts him into the same size class as the aforementioned St. Francis. Although cast from the same mold, the colorways present a dramatic difference.
Saint Joseph is 9″ high and dates from the early 1950s. The flower-decorated base appears to be the same one that was used for the full-figure Sacred Heart of Jesus shown earlier although the St. Joseph figure is slightly shorter.
Another 1950s Cybis saint was Saint Philomena. She is about 8” high and cradles a bouquet of rushes in one arm while an anchor lies near her feet. I once owned this sculpture and brought her to the Cybis studio where Joseph Chorlton identified it by name. Unfortunately I sold it in the early 2000s and did not keep a photo.
This unknown female saint was among the backstock in the studio’s final liquidation. She is definitely from the 1950s but I’ve been unable to identify her; perhaps a helpful reader may chime in? I thought perhaps she may be St. Theresa but the style of her headdress doesn’t match any image of that saint supplied by Google.
The style of her base is also one that I had not seen before. The auction house did not provide item heights but judging from the size of the adjacent pieces, this one is probably about 16″ tall overall.
Cybis in Retrospect cites a Head of St. John from 1948 as being a 13″ high “experimental one of a kind sculpture” in glazed porcelain.
In addition, a text list in the 1974 Cybis catalog includes the following: Saint Theresa, Saint Jude, Saint Pius, and Saint Anne with Mary. It isn’t known whether any or all of these were retail editions or special commissions for churches but all would have dated from the 1950s just as the ones shown here. No information other than the name was given.
Now we come to the only two modern-day “saint” pieces by Cybis. Unlike the 1950s items, they were both original Cybis studio designs.
St. Peter seated on the Papal throne was designed by Lazslo Ispanky in 1964. The sculpture was commissioned by Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York as a presentation gift to Pope Paul VI on the occasion of his visit to the United Nations during that year. It is 16″ high overall.
The color version of the first photo appeared in the 1967 book The History of American Art Porcelain. Despite having a decidedly yellow cast and being woefully overexposed, it does give some idea of the actual colors of the piece.
Although the official presentation ceremony took place in 1964, the sculpture was actually delivered personally by Marylin and Joseph Chorlton to the Pope at the Vatican the following year. Because of its importance the boxed sculpture had its own ticketed first class plane seat. A contemporary newspaper account reported that “The pilot learned what was going on and, as the flight got underway, told passengers over the intercom ‘You’ll be glad to know that Saint Peter is riding back there with you today.’”
This unfinished St. Peter that had remained in the Cybis studio’s backstock for more than fifty years was sold during the late 2019 liquidation of their remaining holdings. Although the Cybis literature claimed that the sculpture presented to the Pope was “one of a kind”, clearly the studio had made at least one (perhaps more) extra. Notice that on this piece the right-hand [in the photo] end of the pallium (long narrow band of fabric atop the robe and with both ends hanging down, as seen in the original piece) is missing/broken off.
This shows the St. Peter after it had been cleaned by the purchaser. Some of the brown “Cypia” shading may well have been unfired watercolor paint which simply wiped off; undoubtedly some other areas were dirt from the abysmal storage conditions in the Cybis building. However, the pallium is now entirely missing, and his right hand has also been broken off. The pieces that the Museum won at the liquidation auction were not delivered to them for several months after the auction ended, so it’s not known when or how the additional damage happened. [photo courtesy of the Museum of American Porcelain Art]
The second, and only retail, representation of St. Peter was this limited edition of 500 that was introduced in 1981 at a price of $1250. It is just shy of being 17″ high. It does not appear on a 1988 price list of available sculptures, indicating that the edition was either completed or closed sometime between 1983 and 1987. Final edition size and closing price are unknown.
This recently discovered Praying Nun was a real surprise and not only because she is not mentioned in any Cybis literature. She is of course from the 1950s, is 5 ½” tall and was cast from a Holland Mold, who also made a companion mold of a nun singing … and so we should expect to one day find an example of that one from Cybis as well.
The surprise is found on the underside. She has the Cybis signature as a brown paintstamp, as expected for a 1950s piece, but also has the raised number 2009 in the mold. That is certainly not expected, at least on a Cybis; Cordey pieces often have either a raised or incised design/mold number but this is the first time we’ve seen one on a Cybis-signed piece. The series (2-xxx) does match up with Cybis’ religious genre and so this is not a case of an errant Cordey having made her way to the other side of the shop.
Her companion, the Singing Nun, has a raised design number 2010 underneath. This example is stamped Cybis Fine China. It’s not known whether there were additional nuns in this small “series”, but if anyone happens to have a third design of these, please let me know and I will be happy to add her to the Archive.
I am putting this piece in both this post and the Jesus Figures post, because I trulyl do not know whom this young boy with cross was meant to represent: An altar boy or acolyte? Jesus as a child? Therefore it will appear in both places within the Archive. He stands 7.25″ high and is marked with design #237 on the underside.
This pieta is more extensively profiled in the Seeking 1950s Cypia post; because it was cast from a commercially available mold, we know it was about 10″ high unless there were multiple sizes of that mold. But that height does correlate with many of the other religious pieces that the studio was producing at that time (1950s.)
The Prayer Book is 3″ high and 5.75″ wide, and is from the early 1950s as evidenced by the stamped Cybis name (in this example, the less commonly seen pinkish paint color) rather than hand-signed. The design number (242) Cybis assigned to this item is interesting because Cybis used two versions of the Lord’s Prayer decal: One has the final sentence (“For thine is….”) and one does not. The longer version, shown above, has been found marked as 242P. The shorter version, with that sentene omitted, has been found as 242. It is possible that the P stood for “Protestant version” because the Catholic version of the prayer does not include that line.
Here is the #242 version of the Prayer Book attached to a vase instead of to the typical rear support. It’s not known if this was a retail production item or just one of the Cybis artists experimenting with it, but logic dictates that it be herewith dubbed the Prayer Book/Vase. Because of the vase/stand component it is deeper (5″ front to back) than the standard Prayer Book; the top of the vase is 1″ x 3.5″.
The Prayer Scroll from the same era displays the ‘Hail Mary’ and is more petite at about 4″ high. This one still has its original design number in pencil (226) and is stamped Cybis Fine China in blue.
A piece called Tower of Strength was made from the 1950s until 1962 for $37.50 and was 8″ high. This was probably (guessing?) a Jesus figure or bust but rather than assume I have placed it in this section pending an eventual image.
A modern item is the Bell with Praying Hands which dates from the mid 1990s. It is cast from the same mold as the shortlived series of Holiday Bells from the same decade. It is 5” high and sold for $350; it was advertised in their Fall 1995 price list as being available personalized with a name.
The modern studio also produced four iterations of a single bust sculpture of Pope John Paul II, the first one appearing in the late 1980s, which is seen in its own post.
Posts showing the other Cybis sculptures in the religious genre are the Jesus figures, Early Madonnas, Later Madonnas, Old Testament Characters, 1950s nativity set, second nativity set, and Holy Child of Prague.
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The Cybis Archive is a continually-updated website that provides the most comprehensive range of information about Cybis within a single source. It is not and never has been part of the Cybis Porcelain studio, which is no longer in business.