Zsolnay fireplace of Szent Stephen's Hall to be installed soon

Hungarian version of the article: Hamarosan beépítik a helyére a Szent István-terem különleges Zsolnay-kandallóját

April 1, 2021 at 2:00 PM

One of the most beautiful ornaments of the first reconstructed historical hall of Buda Castle will be the more than 2.5 meters wide and 4.5 meters high ceramic fireplace, made by the Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactory in Pécs. Experts worked on the reconstruction of a masterpiece for five years. The fireplace is made up of 611 pieces, for which nearly a kilogram of 24-carat gold was used. The reborn Saint Stephen's Hall will be opened to the public on 20 August.

As previously reported, the interior of one of the most significant, representative halls of the Buda Castle is now being recreated. A video published by the National Hauszmann Program has revealed that the fireplace of the palace's Saint Stephen's Hall will soon be installed.

The ceramic work of the Zsolnay factory will be a focal point of the hall being reborn according to its original 120-year-old plans. Representatives of the manufactory discuss how the fireplace was recreated in the video:

"The biggest difficulty is that each item is manufactured by hand, so each item is a different size, not a piece from series production. These need to be pieced together to have a pleasing effect;" said Péter Váradi, the master-builder of the fireplace, in the short film.

Saint Stephen's Hall in its former glory (Photo: FSZEK Budapest Collection)

As stated in the video, the work, which consists of 120 elements and a total of 611 pieces, is based on surviving elements, original designs, and archived photos. It took a year and a half to prepare the production plan.

The designer directed the production process with photos, animations, and sometimes hand-made salt ceramics to ensure each piece was as accurate as possible. According to architect Tibor Angyal, the designer of Saint Stephen's Hall: "It has a rather complicated geometry. I wanted to do this as authentically as possible, just like everything else, so we fought for every single berry, for every little leaf;" the expert says in the video.

The work is based on surviving elements, original designs, and archived photos (Source: National Hauszmann Program)

The original, Zsolnay-tiled fireplace and the reborn version (Photo: Várkapitányság)

The elements of the hand-painted and gilded Zsolnay fireplace are joined with a special adhesive mortar during construction. During the work, attention must be paid to the distribution of weight, so a durable frame structure was created to ensure stability. A special scaffolding will be used to build the upper parts of the 4.7-meter-high and 2.8-meter-wide masterpiece.

The factory has already held a trial build, the elements have been cut to size. On-site, the fireplace will be fitted to the parquet and wall with to the millimetre.

On-site, the fireplace will be fitted to the parquet and wall with to the millimetre (Source: National Hauszmann Program)

"It's an exciting moment because a four-and-a-half-meter, nearly one-and-a-half-ton structure needs to be built from completely irregular elements. This structure needs to be planned well in advance, some of its elements have to be-pre-built so the final build can happen in order "Dr. Péter Rostás, art historian and a leading expert in the reconstruction of Saint Stephen's Hall, explains in the video.

From 20 August, the general public will be able to admire the reborn Saint Stephen's Hall in the southern connecting wing of the Royal Palace of Buda Castle. Entry will be free in the first few days.

Source: National Hauszmann Program

Cover photo: The original, Zsolnay-tiled fireplace and the faithful recreation (Photo: Várkapitányság)

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