Domokos Kuny

(1754-1822)

His father, Dominique Cuny director and artificer of the Durlach Faience Factory was the founder and chief artificer of the first Hungarian faience factory in Holics (today in Slovakia) where he worked until his death. His mother, Krisztina Frank later married another craftsman, Sándor Hermann.

Count Joseph Esterházy founded a faience factory in Tata in 1758. Production only started ten years later, in 1768 with the arrival of prominent craftsmen and artificers from Holics.

The young Domokos Kuny was only 15 when he arrived in Tata with his family in 1769. His foster father, Sándor Hermann became the director of the Tata factory, with Kuny’s mother as his adept assistant. After Hermann’s death (1772) Krisztina Frank managed the factory with her son. Their expertise is indicated in the fact that this period is considered to be the golden age of the factory.

The young Kuny was an extremely skilled painter and model maker and regarded himself as the director of the factory in Tata. However, Krisztina Frank named Krisztina Hermann, her daughter from her second marriage as the director of the factory. Mother and son went to court and Kuny demanded the factory as his rightful inheritance but eventually he did not manage to get it.

Domokos Kuny left Tata in 1784 and never returned to the town.

In the same year he applied for the position of director at the stagnating Vienna Porcelain Factory. He submitted a detailed business plan for the factory which had been put up for auction but his application was not taken seriously by the Vienna court. He then decided to start his own undertaking and founded a faience factory in Buda. Under Kuny’s expertise and versatility the factory – with craftsman from Tata and Holics – soon became successful. Unlike the factory in Tata, his clientele were not from the noble class but from the city dwellers. Therefore the products of the two factories were different, just the trends of the age or the clients were different as well. With their simplified shapes and monochrome painted rosettes Kuny’s works are excellent examples of the Copf style which became widespread during the 1780-90s. They also produced English clay vessels which were fashionable ceramics of the age, as well as marble faiences the raw materials for which Kuny developed himself. In 1792 he gained production privilege for his products which were famous for their supreme quality and elegance. Kuny soon became an acknowledged member of society in Buda, a wealthy citizen who welcomed army officials, town clerks and writers in his parlours.

The tin and lead shortage following the Napoleonic wars tossed the factory of this gifted ceramic artist into a state of crisis as well. It was then that he came up with another brilliant invention: a new transparent glaze. In 1810 he was granted a substantial loan by count Joseph Brunswick to extend the factory. At the same time, however, as chance would have it, the doctors of the University of Pest declared his braze to be poisonous and had the factory closed. Kuny went to Vienna where it took him 3 years to get his invention acknowledged. By then, however, the factory had gone bankrupt.

Domokos Kuny gave up his career as a ceramist and stayed in Vienna until his death in 1822.