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Birth of a monumental phoenix bird

The Herend Porcelain Manufactory will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its founding in 2026. On this occasion, it was decided years ago to create a monumental work of art in each of the ten years preceding the glorious anniversary, thus paying tribute to the predecessors.

A large ornamental fountain, a monumental dragon turtle figure winning a special prize at the Ambiente in Frankfurt, and a large rhinoceros hornbill were already made in recent years and another monumental work of art, a phoenix bird has been created in 2021.

Although the phoenix, reborn from time to time, only exists in legends, still carries a current message. With the help of the inner fire within us, our inner energy, our optimism, our positive willpower, and our ability to adapt, we can overcome the difficulties that the world puts in our way. If we look at the phoenix figure, this thought should come to our mind and as the phoenix is ​​reborn from time to time, so humanity can overcome all difficulties – the creators tell about the unique porcelain masterpiece they made during the pandemic.

The phoenix designed by designer-maker Szabolcs Zeke was made of porcelain in three different sizes. The largest has been on display for a few days in the Manufactory’s main entrance hall. The bravura porcelain work of art has impressive features: the production of the 150-centimeter high, 120-kilogram phoenix began in 2020, took 282 working days and about 50 colleagues participated in it. Three tons of plaster was needed to make the 29 moulds used in production, and a total of 580 kilograms of paste was needed to make the figure. For painting, 11 litres of glaze was used and seven different colours – lemon yellow, wax yellow, iron red, blood red, pompadour, violet, and black – were painted on it. Certain colours can behave “aggressively” with each other, thus painting them on each other was a serious professional challenge. 35 different leaves were placed on the body of the phoenix bird to highlight the plasticity of the figure. During firing, porcelain lives an independent life in the kiln, forming and warping, so the biggest challenge was how to assemble the nine-element bird after firing so that it would be a whole, organic work of art.

The monumental phoenix bird will be on display in the Manufactory’s main entrance hall for nearly a month, after which it will begin its domestic and international tour. First it will be transported to Palais Herend, Budapest, and from there to different parts of the world to promote the talent of Herend masters.

“We have already begun making a new large work of art for 2022 that fits this phoenix bird in appearance and weight. The very special tiger figure reflecting oriental thinking was also designed by designer-maker Szabolcs Zeke – Dr. Attila Simon, CEO of the Herend Porcelain Manufactory Ltd., said, also revealing that they would like to exhibit these extraordinary works of art together in 2026, on the 200th anniversary of the founding.

By VEOL/Veszprémi Napló/Sándor Molnár

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