Bernard Palissy

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Palissy, Bernard

(bĕrnär` pälēsē`), c.1510–c.1589, French potter. For 16 years he worked in vain to imitate white-glazed pottery (probably Chinese), even burning his furniture to fire his kilns. He succeeded in producing a widely imitated pottery, Palissy ware, admired for smooth glazes in richly colored enamels. He was appointed (c.1562) royal potter to Catherine de' Medici and created platters, ewers, and other ornamented pottery for the French court. He is noted for pieces reproducing scriptural and mythological subjects in low relief and for his rustic pieces decorated with sharply modeled forms copied from nature—notably reptiles, insects, and plants. Imitations of this type of Palissy's ware became popular in the later 19th cent. He gave (c.1575–1584) public lectures on natural history. A writer of outstanding ability on a diversity of topics, including religion, chemistry, mineralogy, philosophy, and agriculture, he published two collections of discourses—Recepte véritable (1563) and Discours admirables (1580). Many of his views on nature have been confirmed by scientists. In 1588 he was sent, as a Huguenot, to the Bastille, where he died.

Palissy, Bernard


Born circa 1510 in Saintes or Agen, southwestern France; died 1589 or 1590 in Paris. French Renaissance ceramicist and scholar.

Palissy worked in Saintes (from 1539) and in Paris (from 1564). In the mid-1550’s, he developed a method of making ceramic wares covered with colored glazes. Particularly outstanding was his rustic ware, mistakenly called faience. This pottery generally consisted of oval dishes decorated with reliefs made from molds of fishes, shells, vegetation, snakes, lizards, and frogs. Palissy was also engaged in the natural sciences, including agronomy (he pointed out the importance of salts in the soil) and geology. In lectures that he delivered in Paris (1575–84) and in his published works, he championed the experimental method in natural science.


Oeuvres complètes. Paris, 1961.


Stepanov, B. I. “Bernar Palissi.” Nauka i zhizn’, 1939, no. 10.
Audiat, L. Bernard Palissy. Geneva, 1970.
References in periodicals archive ?
That is, collectors such as Georgius Agricola, Johannes Mathesius, Johannes Kentmann and Bernard Palissy began as specialists in mineralogy and not as general natural history collectors.
The phrase "the womb of the earth," coined by Bernard Palissy, the great French potter of the later sixteenth century, comes to mind.
It is also worth mentioning the influence of the French potter Bernard Palissy who lived in France 1515-1590.
I am intrigued with the work of Bernard Palissy, and he has influenced some of the cup images.
Bernard Palissy and Philibert de l'Orme each have a chapter, and Jean Bullant, Olivier de Serres, Jacques Boyceau, Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, and Salomon de Brosse share a chapter under second-generation" Calvinist architects.
As with any serious study among the art disciplines, Korakas has trawled throughout history to seek out and understand like-minded travellers, so it comes as no surprise that she lists Bernard Palissy (1510 - 1590) the illustrious French potter and the inventor of Rustic ware, as an indelible inspiration.
Worm is an early example of the university professor who utilized his own collection for teaching purposes, as did Ulisse Aldrovandi in Bologna and Bernard Palissy in Paris.
It thus became the first publicly accessible museum in Paris (after that of Bernard Palissy many years before), opened five years before the Louvre.
Evidence for such interest is abundant in technical treatises, including agricultural books, the writings of the artisan Bernard Palissy, and the machine books of Jacques Besson and Agostino Ramelli.