Zsolnay Collection

Zsolnay Collection

In the second half of September, 2023 Budapest’s biggest private Zsolnay collection opens its doors to the public!

Handled by the Resonator Cultural and Art Foundation, the Zsolnay collection involves almost 1000 pieces. The core of the collection is made up of artifacts produced in the Zsolnay factory in the period we call Historicism,  starting from the middle of the 1870s lasting till the Millenium. This period, between 1878 and 1885 is regarded as the first golden age of Zsolnays both from a technical and an artistic point of view.  The collection on display is the private property of András Szabó art collector and it presents the success story of the Zsolnay brand between the years 1870 and 1920 through the decorative ceramics produced in this period.

Zsolnay – There is Know

The story of the world famous Zsolnay ceramics brand is quite unique.

The so called ‘Zsolnay story’ -unique in both the history of Hungarian ceramics art as well as the history of applied arts-started in 1851 when Miklós Zsolnay, merchant from Pécs bought his son, Ignác a piece of land in the Eastern part of the city. There, the previously bankrupt stone pot factory of Lukafa was soon refurbished to be ready to produce kitchenware as well as terracotta drainage pipes used in building decorating from 1853.

However, the factory lacked capital and the economic atmosphere of the time did not help. In 1865, Vilmos Zsolnay, the talented painter having been directed toward a business rather than an artistic career by his father, took over the factory. Thanks to his excellent insight, extreme diligence and thirst for knowledge, the small factory soon grew into the world famous brand it is today. Vilmos kept experimenting with different kinds of materials and glazes while his daughters Teréz and Júlia kept on designing decorative motifs. The first international recognition came with the World’s Fair in Vienna in 1873, while the 1878 Paris World’s Fair in Paris won a gold medal for the family. As a result, by the end of the decade, Zsolnay established itself as one of the lead ceramics manufacturers in Europe. This market leader position was maintained by Vilmos’s son and successor Miklós so the success story continued during the first decades of the new millennium.

What is the Zsolnay secret?

The first 50 years of Zsolnay’s history- which are considered the golden ages of the brand both from a technical and artistic point of view-are characterized by the so-called Zsolnay ‘philosophy’.  Namely a versatility and mixture of shape, technique and color variations that make artifact into a unique product. One idea inspires the next and by referring back and forward to each other,  they inspire such richness in shapes and patterns. This is what made Zsolnay a star at the Wold Fairs of the era, but not just in Europe. The brand became well-known in Asia and in the Americas as well. The history of the Zsolnay factory and family can set an example for the people of the 21st century as well. It shows how talent, diligence, devotedness to quality, family values and social responsibility can turn a small workshop into an innovative,  world class factory thus providing jobs to close to a thousand people.