Having previously looked at the pairs, companions, and sets that the Cybis porcelain studio produced, it’s also interesting to see what I call their ‘two-fer’ and ‘trio’ pieces. These are sculptures that have more than one subject, both (or all) being of equal design weight/importance. There was also one sculpture that was composed of four subjects.
There were 49 of these multi-subject designs released during the modern (1960 or later) Cybis studio era. They occurred in three genres: animals, birds, and human figures. Floral designs other than the few single-stem roses are hard to pigeonhole into a “how many subjects” category, because how would you classify something like the 1960s Rose that has a full-blown flower as the focal point but also several buds as well? Or one of the flower baskets wherein there is only one of each of several different types of flowers? It’s purely subjective and so I’m neatly sidestepping that particular landmine by considering all the florals as “single-subject”!
The true multi-subject designs occurred in both limited and non-limited (“open”) editions. They are shown below in chronological order within each genre and ‘subject count.’
The first two-fer animal design was an open edition, Colts ‘Darby and Joan’, in 1969. It is 9.5” and came with an accompanying wood base that was velvet-topped. The horses are joined by glue or ‘slip’ along their sides.
The next was also an open edition. Panda Bears, which I do consider as a two-fer, was a separately-sold companion piece to the Goldilocks and Panda ‘Bear’ open edition. I personally don’t consider Goldilocks to be a two-fer (because IMHO the red-bow panda is an accessory rather than a subject) but I suppose an argument could be made for it, which is why I’m showing both designs. Both pieces were introduced in 1973; Panda Bears is only 3.5” high.
The first limited-edition animal two-fer was introduced in 1977, with Unicorns ‘Gambol and Frolic’ as an issue of 1000.
In 1981, the Beavers ‘Egbert and Brewster’ launched a series of such ‘twinned’ limited-edition animal studies during the next five years. The beavers are an edition of 400.
Kittens ‘Ruffles and Truffles’ was also an edition of 400, appearing in 1983.
In 1984 the Pegasus Colts ‘Flight and Fancy’ were the logical successors to the two earlier unicorns. Slightly smaller than the unicorns, at 7” high, their edition size of 1000 was the same.
The Otters ‘Baxter and Doyle’ were, like the beavers and kittens, an edition of 400; they were introduced in 1985.
That same year saw the debut of an open-edition pair of Beagle Pups ‘Branigan and Clancy’. It’s a bit puzzling why this design was not a limited edition like others, because its dimensions are comparable to the beavers, kittens and otters. In the early 2000s the studio began offering a single pup (the one scratching his ear) as a stand-alone separate edition named simply Beagle.
In 1986 the Foxes ‘Chatsworth and Sloane’ appeared as an edition of 200. They were the final limited-edition two-subject animal piece. The next two such pieces were open editions.
Although the basket is as large the two bunnies in A Tisket, A Tasket, this was listed by Cybis as an Animals piece rather than as home décor. Thus, the subject is indeed the two bunnies rather than the basket behind them.
Panda and Cub was an open edition in 1989 and is 4.75” high.
The first two-bird Cybis figure was also one of the first bird figures that came out of the ‘modern’ studio and one of the first limited editions: The Turtle Doves ‘Doves of Peace’ was an edition of 500 in 1957; despite the pre-1960 introduction date, this has the characteristics of the post-1960 Cybis pieces. It is 12” high on its wood base.
There were no more two-bird designs until Autumn Dogwood with Chickadees in 1972, which was also an edition of 500.
I have often wondered why this piece, which clearly contains two birds, was named Hermit Thrush with Cranberry Cotoneaster. It should have been either “Hermit Thrush Pair..” or “Hermit Thrushes..”! It was an edition of 250 in 1977.
Ducklings ‘Buttercup and Daffodil’ inaugurated a series of three open-edition two-bird designs in 1977. They are all about five inches high.
Nestling Bluebirds appeared in 1978.
Baby Chicks ‘Downy and Lemon’ bookended this short series in 1979.
The impressive Australian Sulfur Crested Cockatoo was the final two-birds-on-one-base limited edition brought out by Cybis (the Swans in Motion are two separate birds, each on its own base.) This was a declared edition of 25 in 1984 but the scuttlebutt is that they never actually made that many. Susan Eaton sculpted this 25”-high study from life, using her own pet cockatoo as the model.
The Black Capped Chickadees were introduced in 1987.
The final year of normal studio operations (1989) saw the Golden Crowned Kinglets with Apple Blossom.
The final double-bird piece was Penguins ‘Steppin’ Out’ in late 1990.
Two People on One Base
The first “featuring-two-people” Cybis pieces were part of their North American Indians collection, and the earlier of the two was Cree ‘Magic Boy’ in 1971. This piece has its own Archive post explaining that the first production run of 100 was white bisque only, and then in 1986 the studio produced a color version (200.)
The other ‘Indians’ duo is from 1973, as an edition of 225. The full title even names the participants: Iroquois ‘At the Council Fire’ Dekanadwida and Atotarho which depict actual personages in Native American history.
A short two-children-playing series of open editions appeared in 1977 with the introductions of Rusty and Johnny ‘Playing Marbles’ and Skipper and Jens ‘Playing Leapfrog.’
This was followed in 1978 by Nancy and Ned ‘Sledding’ and Lisa and Lynette – which didn’t have an action-descriptive as part of its name, probably because adding “playing ring around the rosie’ would have been unwieldy!
The two-person format went on hiatus until 1985, when the limited-edition Tristan and Isolde appeared. This was an edition of 200 and is, like most of the Portraits in Porcelain category, about 14” tall.
The next two two-fers were both limited-edition ballet studies. First came Romeo and Juliet, an edition of 300 in 1985.
Swan Lake’s Odette was an ambitious piece in 1987; perhaps too ambitious, because the price tag was prohibitive and only 15 were made instead of the declared edition of 100. When the studio reopened in 1990, they took the female mold and issued her as a separate limited edition ballerina named Curtain Call.
The Miniature Bride and Groom is the only Cybis wedding piece to have both figures as a single piece. All of the other wedding figures are separates. This was an open edition in 1988 and is 7” high.
This equestrian piece, the Knight in Shining Armor, leaves no question that the knight and the damsel are equally important. After all, without her the knight would be just another fellow clanking around the countryside in search of a grail or whatnot; and without him, she’d still be bored to death at the top of a tower somewhere! This appeared in 1989 and is an impressive 25” high. It is possible that 10 of these were made.
The Mother-and-Child Quandary
When considering the two-person designs, the question arises “What about the ones that have a mother and a baby?” It is true that without the baby, such a design would make no sense because the subject is literally a mother with a baby. In other words, these pieces do not have two subjects: They have a single subject which is the combination of a mother and child. This is different from the foregoing items, in which each of the two figures could also be used as a stand-alone design – whether a single fox, a single bird, a single child, or a single ballerina. (Granted, tough to do with the knight or lady because they are riding, but still…)
There were only five post-1960 mother-and-baby combo pieces: Two limited editions from the 1970s, two open editions from the 1980s, and one whose status is unknown.
Here are Sacajawea (edition of 350 in 1971) and the Eskimo Mother (edition of 350 in 1973). It’s clear that Sacajawea would need something to hold or to do if her child was not there, but it could be done. The Eskimo Mother design does not even depend on the child in order to make sense; she could easily be playing with the dog, although she’d need to be re-named!
These two were open editions. The girl baby from the 1987 Virginia Dare (top) is too small to be used as a stand-alone piece, and what could you put into Eleanor Dare’s lap to replace her, unless you altered her right arm? The infant in the other piece (originally Mother of Love in 1983, then re-issued in 1989 as Madonna with Baby) is part of the body mold. Yes, the mold could be heavily re-worked on that side to remove the baby and leave a simple madonna holding a flower, but why bother?
As explained in its own post, the piece I’ve tentatively titled Birth/Nativity at Lowicz seems to have been a very short-lived retail offering from the 1980s. It is taken from the 1930s Boleslaw Cybis painting of the same name.
The Madonna ‘House of Gold’ has turned out to have quite a history, as told in its own post. Two examples of this have even been found with Cordey (pre-1950) markings. The baby mold from this design actually was used by the studio on its own to make a holiday ornament decades later, after adding wings to make him into a cherub. Theoretically, the remaining molds (Mary and base) could be a baby-free madonna piece if her arms were repositioned and a bouquet of lilies added. Obviously, that would negate the “mother/child” concept. The head and shoulders of this madonna mold were, in fact, separated out and used for a madonna bust years afterward. So here is an instance where the two human figures either were or could have been used on their own with some additional tweaking. Not as easily as any of the other examples, though.
Trio (Three-Subject) Pieces
There were eleven of these from the post-1960 studio; five of the designs could be (and two were) separated later so that a stand-alone single-subject edition was the result.
The three baby flying squirrels shown in High Rise are an 8” high limited edition of 400 from 1980.
Bunnies ‘Cotton, Puff and Snow’ is definitely a three-subject piece, composed of three bunny molds even though only two of of them are “full-body”; the third mold is of the front part of the bunny only. It was an open edition in 1980.
Adoration, an open edition from 1981, six inches high. Cybis later took the baby/creche and brought it out separately as the giftware item Baby in Cradle in a choice of pink, blue or yellow.
Taffy, Toffee and Tiger is a three-cat design cast from a large base mold with additional separate molds for the heads and legs. It is 3.5” high and was a 1982 open edition.
This trio was made from three casts of the same buffalo mold, each then painted a different color and arranged on a single base. This is a case where the single piece came before the multiple-subject one, instead of being spun off from it later. The original buffalo mold was created in the early 1970s and the single American White Buffalo was offered in 1975 as a retail edition of 250. A supposedly one-of-a-kind group of three on a single wide base, named American Buffaloes, was also made. Then in the mid-1980s the studio decided to bring out that same three-buffalo design to retail as Charging Buffaloes, an edition of 25.
The White Tailed Deer grouping of three was introduced in 1986 as shown here, in an edition of 50. Unlike the buffalo, there was no single-deer spinoff of this one until four years later; in 1990 the studio took the rearmost deer (the one with its hind legs in the air), repositioned it horizontally as if jumping over a fallen log, and brought it out as a new limited edition of 750 named Deer in Motion.
There are three birds in Screech Owl and Siblings: the mother owl and two nestlings. This was a limited edition of 100 in the late 1980s; the exact introduction year is unknown at present.
This 1988 open edition shows three Nestling Owls ‘Harriet, Hawk and Hood’ shoulder-to-shoulder.
Three separate molds were combined to form the 1989 open edition Three Little Pigs.
I have never seen a Circus Horse Trio ‘Showtime’ other than in this poor-quality thumbnail size image from the defunct Cybis website. Supposedly it is almost 10” high and was an edition of 2000 sometime in the 1990s. It appears to be composed of three of the same rearing-horse mold but with each one having slight tweaks in the position of the legs and head, and all three literally joined at the hip at the back of the sculpture. It would be very nice to have a normal photo of this piece, and if anyone does happen to own one, there is a contact form link at the end of this post. However, I suspect that few – if any – were actually made.
In the mid-1990s the studio took the first three pieces of their 1980s ‘First Christmas’ nativity series – Mary, Joseph and Child with Lamb – plopped them onto a porcelain base, and issued the resulting sculpture within their new Hall of Fame category as Nativity, Holy Family. This is another case of a multi-subject piece having been assembled from three previously-separate-edition molds.
The studio’s 1950s religious offerings did include three-people-on-a-base items: The Holy Family, Three Wise Men, (from the Nativity Murals) and Pillar of Families. All of these were cast by Cybis from molds they had purchased ready-made from local mold-making companies; they were not Cybis original designs.
The ‘Quad’ Design
The only Cybis piece that I have seen with four subjects is the Mother Bear with Three Cubs, which was an edition of 100 in 1983. This piece was originally designed by Charles Oldham, a freelance sculptor who created most of the Cybis studio’s best animal and bird sculptures, as a mother grizzly bear. However, what Mr. Oldham designed was different from the final product that Cybis released. The studio modified it to such an extent that Mr. Oldham did not want his name associated with it! Knowing the high quality of his work, I would like to have seen what his actual design looked like; I’m sure it looked more like a grizzly bear than this one does, for one thing.
After the release of the four-bear limited edition, the studio used the individual cub molds to produce numerous single-bear open editions during the 1990s. The cub with its front paws almost crossing each other was marketed in four colorways, ‘imaginatively’ called Tan Bear, Brown Bear, White Bear and Black Bear. The most upright of the cubs got a new job as Bear Cub Sitting (in brown and in white, and both colorways also with and without a sprig of holly stuck next to his chin to create a Christmas version) and eventually joined the golfing bunnies as Bear Cub Golfer in the same four available colorways and holiday option. The third cub, who is somewhat hunched over, was not used for an open edition and was able to retire in peace.
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