Hungary is well-known for several things: baths, ruin bars, architecture, pálinka and, among its many cultural treasures, Zsolnay porcelain — famous for its eosin glazing process and pyrogranite ceramics.
The factory was established in 1853 by Vilmos Zsolnay, the great Hungarian ceramist known for his dedication to continuous innovation in his field. Gathering together the best professionals, artists and architects of his time, the Zsolnay porcelain factory was born.
The artists of the factory incorporated Eastern forms and motifs into their work as well as modern trends. Today, these pieces of art are increasingly in demand on international art markets due to a nostalgia for a way of life now long past, but also to preserve a Hungarian tradition that paved the way for contemporary Hungarian culture.
Pyrogranite is an artificial granite-like stone made by melting clay and refers to a range of ceramics developed by the Zsolnay company in the early 1880s. It is ideal for decorating buildings, roof tiling, and making ornamental objects for indoors or outdoors; it is also used for stoves and fireplaces. Renowned architects Ödön Lechner and Marcell Komor saw the great opportunity of using Zsolnay pyrogranite ceramics in buildings; their work, a product of close cooperation with the Zsolnay factory, yielded the colorful fairytale world of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture at the end of the 19th century.
Zsolnay’s most unique and inimitable work, however, came from the eosin glazing technique, first developed in the early 1890s. The technology behind this colorful and iridescent glaze is a closely guarded secret to this day and is used to create decorative objects and building ornaments of various sizes. Several finishing techniques were also developed at the Zsolnay factory, including hand-painting, etching, and marbling.
As the birth of eosin coincided with the emergence of art nouveau around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the new forms and decorative motifs were used to full effect by famous artists around the world.
During its long history of more than 160 years, the Zsolnay brand has always been on the cutting edge, both in terms of technique and style. And it is still today a favorite Hungaricum.