Bernard Palissy, French geologist

Bernard Palissy, French geologist

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bernard Palissy (1509-1589), French potter, geologist and naturalist, stoking his furnace with wooden furniture. Originally a glass-painter by trade, Palissy spent 16 years on experiments to produce enamels. His efforts reduced him and his family to poverty; he is said to have burned his furniture and even the floor boards of his house to feed the fires of his furnaces, and it is said that his wife and family reproached him bitterly. From 1557 his ceramics, decorated in coloured relief, made him famous. From 1575 to 1584 he lectured on natural history, physics and agriculture. As a Huguenot Protestant, he was arrested by France's Catholic regime in 1588 for his religious beliefs, and died in prison the following year. Engraving from the 1875 edition of Vies des Savants Illustres.

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