A Monumental Pair of Cybis Papka Bird and Flower Pieces

Rather than simply add these to the 1940s Papka post, I felt this find was big enough (dimensionally speaking) to deserve its own page. It’s also very difficult to find any color photographs of Boleslaw Cybis’ papka pieces because the only publication in which some do appear (the 1971 exhibit catalog Cybis in Retrospect) was printed entirely in black and white.

At 28″ high these are taller than any papka piece referenced in that catalog and more than double the size of the typical Bird in Tree designs cited therein, which were typically only between 8″ and 12″ high.

PAIR OF PAPKA TREES WITH BIRDS by Cybis early 1940spapka-trees-with-birds-detail-1Most papka pieces had so-called “fresco decoration”, defined by Cybis as being in various pastel shades. The flowers here may represent one of the pinks, and the leaves definitely lean more toward the blue end of the spectrum than green.

papka-trees-with-birds-detail-2The birds are interesting because although the downward-facing one (with the widespread wings) is very similar to the one later used on the often-seen small Cordey bird-on-branch pieces, it’s not from the same mold. On the other hand these birds are more realistic than the 1940 papka prototype seen in Birds, Part One.

My guess is that this oversized pair probably dates from 1942-1943 which is the same time that Boleslaw Cybis moved away from papka as a medium and launched his retail Cordey and Cybis lines in porcelain.

The extent of the damage and repairs to this pair isn’t surprising, considering the plaster-composition-like material and the overall construction. The seller cited both as having “chips and minor cracks in numerous places” and that “one appears to have been broken and re-glued.” Their weight was not mentioned but they surely must have been hefty! The pair sold for $25 at auction in 2012.

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