Zsolnay fireplace in Saint Stephen's Hall now being built

Hungarian version of the article: Elkezdődött a Szent István-terem kandallójának beépítése – Egy kiló aranyat használnak a díszítéshez

April 14, 2021 at 12:30 PM

The largest Zsolnay fireplace in the country, weighing nearly one and a half tons, is now being built in the Saint Stephen's Hall of the Royal Palace of Buda Castle. Hungarian artisans, including representatives of disappearing crafts, took part in the re-creation of the 611-piece ceramic fireplace. The historical hall will be open to the public on August 20.

On August 20, the first reconstructed historical hall of the Royal Palace of Buda Castle, Saint Stephen's Hall, will open to the public. One of the room's main attractions will be the Zsolnay ceramic fireplace, which was destroyed together with the hall in World War II. In recent weeks, the specialists of Várkapitányság have started to install the reconstructed fireplace room.

The hall named after King Stephen was an outstanding achievement of Hungarian applied art at the turn of the century. It was an international success at the 1900 Paris World Fair. The original was created by outstanding artists and artisans of the age such as Endre Thék, Rudolf Kissling, Gyula Jungfer and Alajos Strobl. The wonderful room was destroyed in World War II but is now being rebuilt according to original plans under the National Hauszmann Program.

The pyrogranite fireplace was made based on surviving elements, original plans and archive photos (Photo: Várkapitányság)

Vilmos Zsolnay played a major role in creating the room, and one of the most defining elements of the room, the pyrogranite fireplace and the bust of St. Stephen on the mantlepiece, were made in his factory. Now, in the Zsolnay Porcelain Manufactory, experts have made a faithful copy of the original work based on surviving elements, the original plans and archive photos.

The 4.7-meter-high, 2.8-meter-wide, and nearly one-and-a-half-ton fireplace consists of 120 elements and a total of 611 pieces. The original, larger than life-size bust, a commanding authority in itself, was created by Alajos Strobl.

Nearly one kilogram of 24-carat gold was used to reconstruct the masterpiece in 611 pieces (Photo: Várkapitányság)

After a trial construction in Pécs, in recent weeks, specialists have begun assembling the fireplace in its final location in the Hall, which is being rebuilt in its original location in the Southern Connecting Wing of the Royal Palace of Buda Castle. Each element will be joined together with a special adhesive mortar, and for proper weight distribution, a durable frame structure has also been created. A special stand will be used to install the top of the fireplace.

The reconstruction of the central fireplace will be followed by installing an extremely complex inlaid parquet made of oak, mahogany and American walnut, which was originally made in the Neuschloss brothers' factory.

The fireplace of St. Stephen's Hall (Photo: FSZEK Budapest Collection)

The cultural and applied artistic value of the restoration of Saint Stephen's Hall is enhanced by the participation of representatives of disappearing crafts to achieve an authentic reconstruction. Representatives of seven professions from Pécs to Pápa, hundreds of specialists, are working on the reconstruction in about twenty workshops.

St. Stephen's Hall will be open to visitors from August 20, free of charge in the first days.

Source: National Hauszmann Program

Cover photo: The largest Zsolnay fireplace in the country is being built in Saint Stephen's Hall of the Royal Palace (Photo: MTI/Várkapitányság)

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