9th June 1909 -2008.
It is not uncommon to see a smiling old man, a Herend master of 97 years of age, walk down the streets of Herend, pop into the manufactory or frequent the inauguration of exhibitions at the Herend Porcelain Museum.
István Freund, known to all as Uncle Steffi, is a Herend man through and through. He was born on 9th June 1909. His father was a painter as Herend as well but died young, leaving three children to be brought up by their mother. On 10th May 1923, István Freund started as an apprentice at Jenő Farkasházy's Herend Porcelain Factory. He is known to be the only living person to have met the legendary manufacturer in person. After four years of training, Freund became a trainee painter in August 1927 and then an assistant painter. In those days painters did not specialise in figurines, ornaments or tableware yet but they all painted what was put before them on the day. Thus they were more skilled and had better overall competence. Apart from being a painter and an instructor, Freund held several positions: modeller, clerk and quality controller as well. As a painter, he worked only on the special products marked SP, which are often unique masterpieces manufactured in a limited edition series a true challenge for even the best masters. For decades he made good use of his expertise and talent as a painter training youngsters in their vocational school.
He still came to the manufactory working part-time as a pensioner until 1993, teaching Herend painters. That means he spent no less than 70 years within the walls of the manufactory. Very few people can say that about themselves. István Freund's endless patience, great knowledge and humanity have made him a role model for countless trainees and colleagues.
He celebrated his 80th birthday at his workbench as a retired painter. In a photograph taken at the centenary of the Herend Porcelain Manufactory he is seen to be showing a painting of his to Miklós Horthy. In the fifties he worked together with Mrs. Mátyás Rákosi at Herend and knew Margit Kovács, the world-famous ceramic artist, very well.
In his free time István Freund paints, makes wicker baskets and woodcarvings, and studies English.
Everybody's Uncle Steffi is a true embodiment of centuries of knowledge. He is the living memory of arts and crafts traditions.