An Unusual (Sort Of) Cybis Bearded Man Bust circa 1940s

The coexistence of the Cordey and Cybis studio lines during the 1940s occasionally resulted in some interesting ‘crossover’ pieces, particularly those that apparantly never made it into retail production. One such piece is a bust of this bearded elderly man, perhaps a sage, signed MC indicating it was by Marja (a/k/a Maria) Cybis, wife of Boleslaw.


BEARDED MAN BUST by Cybis ca 1940s view 1Bearded Man Bust by Maria Cybis view 2This piece sold online in 2011 and these four small photographs are all that remain. The seller’s description included the fact that the underside was marked with MC and also the design number 5064 which is a Cordey format (more about Cordey vs Cybis design numbers in an upcoming post) and that the only damage was that “a missing tiny end of his beard.”  Size cited as 6.5″ tall and 3.25″ wide.

There are several interesting things about this piece, not least that I can’t quite decide what kind of garb he’s supposed to be wearing; to my eyes it looks rather like what Victorian gents used to call a “dressing gown.” The painted pattern is quite similar to the one seen on this madonna bust from the same period:


This bust has the typical 1940s/50s retail Cybis stamp in blue ink. Several of the small Cordey-stamped lady busts show a similar pattern – also in blue – on her garment but slightly more ‘open’ and with the addition of small painted flowers. The bearded-man bust is the first one I’ve seen in shades of brownish paint, however.



1940s folklore sheep by CybisAnother interesting design element is the oval-shaped “chain” around his neck which appears to be a holdover from the early 1940s papka pieces such as this sheep (yes, the studio does actually caption this long-necked creature as a Baby Sheep in Cybis in Retrospect!)  Rather than being round – or as I call them, “Cheerios” – the bearded man’s is slightly elongated.

The actual mold used for the Bearded Sage (since that’s what I’ve decided to dub him) is the same that was used for at least two Cordey retail designs: a pilgrim man and a fellow that seems to be Sir Walter Raleigh.


Although this bust’s torso is wider than the Sage’s, that’s only because of the added lace from the shoulders downward. Take away the fripperies and it’s the same mold, including the gold-trimmed base portion and the plain section below that.  This piece is 7.5″ high but that’s no doubt because of the added hat, and likewise the cited 4.5″ width takes into account the wider shoulders. Along with the Cordey mold impression on the underside this piece is marked 5034.


Here’s another Cordey piece cast from the Bearded Sage mold; in this case it’s a Pilgrim Man on the left. (Numerous examples are for sale online but I chose this one because it also shows the companion piece.) His garb is plain and so the width – like the Sage’s – is taken from the base section and is 3.5″. Despite the lack of the plain base section in this iteration, his height is variously given as anywhere between 6.75″ and 7.5″ depending on the seller who is doing the measuring! The design number for the pilgrim man is 5008 and his lady companion is #5016.  Quite a few internet sellers inexplicably describe the male bust as “a pilgrim lady” in spite of the fact that in popular culture it is only men who are depicted as wearing such hats, and also that the 5008 piece lacks the, er, anatomical feature seen on the female companion piece.

In any case, the Bearded Sage is yet another example of a Cybis/Cordey crossover during the decade when they were all being produced in the same Church Street location.

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