Despite the fact that the Cybis studio produced numerous religious studies since the early 1950s, they only produced one papal portrait: a bust of Pope John Paul II. There was only a single design/mold but it was produced in four separate editions and sizes at different times. All editions were titled The Pope and differ in only in finished physical size, edition size, and color/price versions. The first two were introduced in 1989 which was the studio’s designated 50th Anniversary year. Pieces that were physically created during that year should have the special gold 50th Anniversary decal somewhere near the signature area.
The largest Pope bust (overall) is approximately 14” high x 12” wide on its wood base. This was offered as either a full-color edition of 100 or a plain white bisque edition of 200. The full-color edition (design #21185) was priced at $1475, and the white one (design # 23185) at $1000.
The next edition option was 12” high x 10.25” wide overall, which appears to reflect the fact that these do not sit upon a wood base. The color edition of 1000 (design #20185) was $1300 and the plain white bisque edition (design #10185) of 200 was $895.
Because I have not seen any examples of either of these come up for sale, I cannot verify whether the height difference is indeed the result of the base-vs.-no-base options, or whether the mold itself was downsized for the 12″ one.
In 1990, a third edition option entered the Cybis retail lineup. It was offered only in the single colorway shown, and was described as The Pope — “gold on white”. It is 10.5” high x 9.5” wide, does not have a base, and was listed as an edition of 1000 for $750. This is definitely a downsized mold and was given design #20207.
The smallest version of this bust is 8” high x 7” wide, is from 1990, and was an edition of 2500 selling for $395. It is titled The Pope – (white) (tone on tone) and is design #20212. Obviously this is a further downsize from the gold-on-white’s mold. Like most items that came from the studio’s 2019 liquidation auction lots, this piece is rather dirty from poor storage conditions; it’s possible that the areas which were gold in the other versions may be lightly glazed in this one (hence the “tone on tone” description) and the brown areas seen here may be accumulated dirt and grime. (Yes, many were indeed that bad; check out the before-and-after-cleaning pics of the Seagull in the Later Birds post if you doubt it!)
This photo shows one of the 14″ Pope busts being presented. The Cybis caption reads Theresa and Joseph Chorlton (CEO of Cybis) present Pope John Paul II with a commemorative anniversary bust at the Vatican. Although this is the only Cybis portrait of an actual Pope, the studio has personally presented other sculptures to two other Popes as well. A one of a kind enthroned Saint Peter was presented to Pope Paul VI in 1964, and Moses ‘The Great Lawgiver’ was presented to Pope John XXIII.
All of the other religious-themed Cybis pieces can accessed through the “Religious/Biblical” category link.
Name Index of Cybis Sculptures
Visual Index (for human figures/busts only)
About the Cybis Reference Archive
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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.