The pottery factory of Herend was founded in 1826. It carried out experiments on making porcelain and developed the first true porcelain pieces in a very short time. At first the porcelain made in Herend included some replacement pieces and replicas of porcelain made in the famous German Meissen factory, soon however, a very unique line emerged, making Herend famous all over the world.
The Vienna Exhibition in 1845, the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, the Exhibition of All Nations in New York in 1853, and the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855, brought the highest recognition for Herend. Orders were made on behalf of several royal courts and for many aristocrats, both in Hungary and abroad. The names of well-known patterns refer to the first customers, Queen Victoria, Earl Esterházy, the Rothschilds, and so on. Herend was a main supplier of porcelain to the Habsburg Dynasty as well.
The factory, still specializing in luxury, hand painted porcelain, is located in the town of Herend, close to the city of Veszprém and near Lake Balaton. There is a porcelain museum on site, which is also worth a visit. In addition Porcelanium, opened in 1999, houses one of the largest porcelain collections in the world. Visitors can venture behind the scenes and learn about the technology and art of porcelain-making through short films and demonstrations. The Apicius Restaurant and Café offers additional entertainment and activities year-round with regular wine-tasting events, temporary exhibitions and one-off events.
Did you know? Many celebrities and art connoisseurs along with kings, queens and aristocrats of the 19th and 20th centuries have been customers of Herend porcelain. Here are just some of the rich and famous who have enjoyed the beauty of the hand-made pieces:
Queen Victoria ordered a whole service of Herend porcelain at the first World Fair in London. Her name became associated with the Victoria pattern and the collection was named after her. Princess Diana collected Herend china figurines. Her collection, now on display at the Spencer Family's home at Althorp, consisted of various animals painted in the classic Herend fishnet design. Several Herend pieces were donated to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI received a Herend figurine for his 80th birthday. Formula 1 pilot and champion, Lewis Hamilton is the happy owner of a Herend Trophy presented to him for his victory in the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a collector and has purchased several pieces of Herend china. And finally, yours truly is also the owner of a beautiful service of Herend porcelain that she received for her graduation.
Where to buy? Although it can be expensive, even the small collector can afford a few pieces of this gorgeous, world-famous porcelain. In fact, Herend porcelain is one of the most popular souvenirs to take home. Herend porcelain can be found in most major shopping malls in Budapest and the city center is also home to two flagship stores, located at József Nádor tér 11 in Pest, District 5 and at Andrássy út 16 in Pest, District 6.
Photos courtesy of Herend Hungary