For over 50 years, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was the largest and most powerful political entity in mainland Europe. It occupied over 270,000 square miles of Europe, and governed over multiple ethnic and language groups. The single most important ceramics factory in the Austro-Hungarian empire and of all central Europe — indeed, the largest enterprise of any type of production in the empire, was Zsolnay Porcelains (pronounced like “Zsa Zsa, as in Zsa Zsa Gabor).
Established by Miklós Zsolnay in Pécs, Hungary in 1853, it was when his son, Vilmos, became manager and director ten years later that the factory exploded with innovations. By 1870, Zsolnay’s production technology had become very different from that of any other porcelain factory, and several absolutely unique solutions were developed in the factory. One of them was “Eozin,” a rich, iridescent glazing technique named after the Greek goddess, Eos. The technique used “Eosin, a fluorescent bromine derivative of fluorescein, or one of its salts or other derivatives that resulted in a red iridescence. Different colors and processes were developed over time, including a green finish), but Eozin became a trademark of Zsolnay, and a favorite of art nouveau artists.
Szolnay also developed Pyrogranite, a durable material that was frost-and-acid-resistant making it ideal for roof tiles, decorative ceramics indoors and out, and more. The roofs of several buildings in Hungary are made of pyrograite, including the Hungarian Parliament.
The company is still celebrated today for its striking designs and innovative use of materials, and not surprisingly, we are fans of the porcelain dogs made by Zsolnay artists and craftsmen…..and oh, did they include different breeds. We’ve seen German Shepherd Dogs, Boxers, Poodle and Dachshunds. Fox Terriers, Vizslak, and more.
Not all Zsolnay figurines were made using the Eozin technique. There are many fine traditional porcelain breeds, such a the Whippet shown at the top of the page. We’ve also seen a Zsolnay porcelain Scottish Terrier, and even came across a collection of breeds being offered here.
The factory continues to thrive today, and while the pieces it currently produces are reflective of more modern tastes, more traditional figurines can be found on Ebay, Etsy, 1stDibs and auction houses. The hand made and hand painted pieces are highly collectable, and authenticity is found when the pieces are marked and numbered at the bottom.
Image: Zsolnay porcelain Whippet is currently offered by Eva, of evika on Etsy. If interested, click here.