We recently traveled to the city of Pecs in Hungary to see best porcelain made by the Zsolnay Porcelain factory. The factory is located in the outskirts of the city centre, and the museum is next to it.
The main museum that houses the best Zsolnay porcelain pieces in the world is located in Pecs. It has the biggest and most extensive collection of high-quality Zsolnay porcelain works.
The pieces on exhibit here are of an especially high quality because Gyugyi Lazlo, the original collector of many of the pieces, decided to buy only the best pieces. He rejected any pieces that were even slightly damaged.
THE BEST ZSOLNAY PORCELAIN IN THE WORLD
Because of this decision, he was able to amass a truly incredible collection of Zsolnay porcelain. The display includes works from the 19th century to just before the Soviet era. This is supposed to be the Golden Age of Zsolnay porcelain and it truly is.
The collection represents various styles through the generations of artisans and artists. Many pieces are really breathtaking. I went around the museum thrice just to make sure I saw every detail in every beautiful piece.
DIFFERENT STYLES OF ZSOLNAY
Interestingly, there were many styles on display so we saw everything from classic feance style to the unique honeycomb style pioneered by the artists at the Zsolnay factory in Pecs.
Zsolnay uses a material called eosin in many of their works. This makes their pieces unique compared to the works of other European porcelain factories such as Limoges or Herend. The eosin material is an original material created by Zsolnay under closely guarded conditions.
THE PRODUCTION AND USE OF EOSIN IN PORCELAIN
Even today, Zsolnay keeps the information about the eosin material highly confidential. In fact, the production of eosin is such a well guarded secret that few people working in the factory or the museum in Pecs actually know the details.
Meanwhile, visitors to the factory are not allowed to take photos. The factory personnel are very strict about this. Furthermore, I heard that the eosin material is mixed on the spot depending on the pieces to be made.
THE STORY OF ZSOLNAY
Looking at their museum collection pieces, I quickly realised that Zsolnay once created some of the most exquisite porcelain pieces in the world. I marveled at their artistry and technique, and I was left breathless by the sheer vastness of their creativity.
However, it is not a world-famous brand like Meissen of Germany or Limoges of France — or even like Herend or even Hollóháza. Herend and Hollohaza are the other major porcelain makers in Hungary. I asked our guide why this was so.
“Zsolnay created beautiful art pieces before the First World War,” she explained. “Then during the war and also during the Soviet era, the factory started producing household plates and useful items in order to survive.”
She added: “It’s only since 2000 that the new owner of Zsolnay decided to try and return the factory in Pecs to its former grandeur.”
BUYING PORCELAIN IN HUNGARY
Inspired by this explanation, I headed for the museum shop. I wanted my own Zsolnay porcelain piece since I loved the designs so much. It also seemed like the best souvenir to take back from Hungary.
I saw many reasonable priced Zsolnay pieces at the museum shop. However, after viewing the private collection of the best Zsolnay pieces in the world, I could not think of buying ordinary pieces anymore.
My eyes gravitated towards the intricate pieces, similar to what I had seen on exhibit.
Unfortunately, the pieces in this world-class category had seven-figure price tags, so these were a little out of my current budget. So I decided to wait for another opportunity to buy my own artwork.
HAPPY ENDING IN PECS
However, this story has a happy ending. This morning, while walking through the old town of Pecs, we found an antique store with the most beautiful old pieces. In fact, these were not just old. These were real antiques.
I found a beautiful jar and an exquisite flower vase made in the 1880s. These were in perfect condition and it was love at first sight. The prices were not cheap, but these were not outrageous either. So I decided to buy both to remind me of all my wonderful times in Hungary, living a Travelife.
Read more stories on Hungary in Travelife Magazine.