Established in 1853 by Miklós Zsolnay, Zsolnay began as a small business producing basic stoneware and earthenware. Ten years later Miklós’ son, Vilmos, joined the company and led it to worldwide recognition at international exhibitions including the 1878 World Fair in Paris, where they received a Grand Prix for their ceramics and glazes. Zsolnay reached even greater heights after 1893 when they introduced their now-famous “eosin” glaze. Named after the Greek goddess of dawn, Eos, this lustrous and iridescent glaze can appear to be enamel, metal, or even glass and the colors morph depending on the angle, strength, and type of light applied to the surface. In the last decade of the 19th century, riding a high of economic prosperity and political stability in Hungary, the firm hired many Art Nouveau and Jugendstil artists to create spectacular sculptural and painterly vases and vessels.

Some of Zsolnay’s best designers were Sándor Apáti Abt, whose dynamic designs are highly prized, and József Rippl-Rónai, a Paris-based French symbolist painter and Art Nouveau devotee, who both joined the company between 1897 and 1899. Tádé Sikorski served as the highly creative principal designer from 1890 to 1910 and Mihály Kapás Nagy was a talented sculptor who was employed as a factory artist for many years. Their creations represented the synthesis of superb design sensibility and brilliant chemistry which gave birth to the Golden Age of Zsolnay ceramics that lasted until about 1910.

By 1914, Zsolnay was the largest company in Austro-Hungary. It successfully weathered both WWI and WWI, but following the rise of communism the factory was nationalized in 1948 and, eventually, the Zsolnay name was dropped and renamed the Pécs Porcelain Factory. For decades they produced predominantly common tablewares. By 1982 the market economy resumed, the company regained its independence, and the Zsolnay name returned. It remained a private company until 1991 and, in 2012, was acquired by Swiss-Syrian businessman Bachar Najari.

Auction Results Zsolnay