Bernard Palissy c.1510-c.1589 was best known for his pottery, although he was also a glass painter and land surveyor, writer, scientist and lecturer.
Persecuted as a Protestant, he was imprisoned until the constable of Montmorency employed him in the decoration of the Château d’Ecouen. He was then appointed as “inventor of rustic pottery to the king and the queen mother” which gave him protection from persecution.
In 1572, Palissy was warned to flee Paris. He escaped the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and took refuge in eastern France.
He returned to Paris in 1575, Palissy gave public lectures on natural history, which became extremely popular, revealing him as a writer and scientist who contributed many ideas to modern agronomy.
Palissy’s pottery was ‘decorated rustic ware’ , a type of earthenware covered with coloured lead glazes. He made mostly oval or circular dishes, and jugs, decorated with plants and animals and mythological scenes.
Imprisoned for religious reasons in 1588, he died in the dungeons of the Bastille, at the age of 80, a martyr for his faith.
In 19th century, his style was revived and contemporary pottery was made under the name of ‘Palissy Ware’ using coloured glazes motifs of sea creatures.
Palissy Street in East London is named after him.