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Bernard Palissy

September 1, 2009

It seems that personal webpages go in one of two possible directions. A few are systematic and disciplined explorations of particular topics, but many more are collections of bright and shiny baubles, evidence of the human tendency toward a “magpie mind.”  The following piece could demonstrate that this page is moving in the latter direction. I was looking through some trip photos today, and just couldn’t resist posting some of these …




Two years ago, I had an opportunity to visit the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Among the endless treasures there, I was particularly struck by some items in a case of ceramics attributed to Bernard Palissy (c. 1510-1589) and his assistants. I was not previously aware of Palissy’s work, but I was instantly converted when I saw these wonderful platters on natural history themes.

Palissy was true Renaissance man, accomplished in the arts and in natural sciences. This is evidenced by his fine attention to detail, and the non-judgemental depiction of all manner of “creepy crawlies” on these marvellous dishes.




from Wikipedia: “Bernard Palissy (c. 1510 – c. 1589) was a French potter and craftsman, famous for having struggled for 16 years to imitate Chinese porcelain. … Around 1563, under royal protection, he was allowed to establish a fresh pottery works in Paris in the vicinity of the royal palace of the Louvre. The site of his kilns indeed became afterwards a portion of the gardens of the Tuileries. For about twenty-five years from this date Palissy lived and worked in Paris. He appears to have been a personal favorite of Catherine de’ Medici’s, and of her sons’, in spite of his profession of the reformed religion. … His ideas of springs and underground waters were far in advance of the general knowledge of his time, and he was one of the first Europeans to enunciate the correct theory of the origin of fossils.”


Addendum: I was just looking up information about Bernard Palissy on the internet, and found some wonderful material, including the subtitle “Snakes on a Plate.”  I wish I’d thought of that.


One Comment leave one →
  1. lockwooddewitt permalink
    September 1, 2009 7:33 pm

    Those are wonderful! Thanks.

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