Miklós Zsolnay, a wealthy Pécs merchant, started this business when he bought a small Hard Tile Manufacture for his older son, Ignác. This happened in 1853. But as the boy almost led the company to bankruptcy, leadership was taken over by his brother Vilmos after only one year of working together. This proved to be a good decision. The factory became great and world famous under the leadership of Vilmos Zsolnay.
His children are the members of the third generation: Teréz, Júlia and Miklós. All of them were attached to the factory: Júlia and Teréz were designers while Miklós was a trader who became the leader of the commercial division of the company alongside his father at the tender age of sixteen. The fourth generation bore two names: they were the Mattyasovszkys and the Sikorskis. Geologist Jakab Mattyasovszky was the husband of Teréz while architect Tádé Sikorski was the husband of Júlia. At this point the family was divided into two family lines, their children and grandchildren are the present heirs of Zsolnay.
The first success of the company was at the International Exposition of Vienna in 1873 which was followed by the great sensation: eosin. This technique led to world fame at the International Exposition of Paris in 1900. The factory suffered a set-back in the same year as a result of the death of Vilmos Zsolnay, later followed by the First World War and the illness of the young Miklós, but after the Czech and Austrian competitors were charged with special duty fees as the result of the Treaty of Trianon the production of Hungarian ceramics could continue on favourable terms. In 1948 the Zsolnay factory was also socialized without any kind of compensation. Members of the family were convicted on trumped-up charges. After their release they were forced to emigrate.