Bernard Palissy (1510-1590) was a dedicated French potter, chemist, and enameler during the Renaissance.
He is renowned for his struggle to create new techniques of enameled ceramic ware known as “faïence” in France. According to his own writings, he was at times so poor that he had to use his furniture and floor boards as kiln fuel. He developed his own style of pottery, covered with life-sized replicas of amphibians, reptiles, insects, and plants. This type of ware, known as rustiques figulines (“rusticware”), became so admired that in 1563 he was named King’s Inventor of Rustic Ceramics, and in 1567 he was summoned by Catherine de Medici to decorate her palace of the Tuileries. Palissy rejected the idea that the biblical flood could have deposited fossils throughout the world, even on the highest mountaintops. For opposing such theological belief, and for being an alchemist and Hugenot, he was arrested and eventually died in the Bastille.