Bernard Palissy - a search, a lifetime

For the present generation of young people, scientific search in most cases is the lot of cranks and people not of this world. The life of the Frenchman Bernard Palissy (1510-1589) fully corresponds to these ideas. Yes, Bernard Palissy is an eccentric even for his contemporaries, yes, Bernard Palissy is a search, long in life, but at the same time Bernard Palissy is also a way from an ordinary artisan to a master making orders to the king himself , inventor, artist, chemist, one of the founders of modern geology and paleontology.

The life of the Frenchman Bernard Palissy (1510-1589) fully corresponds to these ideas

He was looking for a way of making artistic glaze for pottery with the perseverance of a man, groping for a way out of the dark dungeon. And like in any activity, at first nothing happened. But Bernard Palissy every day rubbed new mortar in a mortar, he built a stove, on which all the money left, which was already scarce. He himself wore and laid bricks, prepared lime, kneaded clay. Once, during one experiment, Bernard was so carried away that he put firewood into the stove for six days and nights. And when the wood was finished, he began to burn the fence of his garden, then came the turn to the furniture and the floor in the house. All the neighbors laughed at such zeal, considering the person crazy. He was refused credit in the grocery store, he was ruined, he was in debt. And on the hands of Bernard Palissy there were two small children. It's time to quit everything and go to sort out this mess in some other way, earning a living differently.

"Hope did not leave me and I again got down to business, though it was hard on my heart", Bernard Palissy wrote after the meeting. The furnace constantly demanded investment of money, it was destroyed by temperature drop, rain and wind. But when Bernard immediately broke it after another repair to build a more perfect, kind neighbors called him "a man that builds and destroys". But it did not break Bernard Palissy himself. He was working day and night in front of his furnace. And in the rain and snow, because the oven was on the street - Bernard had no money to build the roof. No one helped him, no one believed in his success.

In creative search Bernard Palissy wanted to get a special glaze that would have different colors

In creative search Bernard Palissy wanted to get a special glaze that would have different colors. But this is impossible - glazes of different colors melted at different temperatures. However, after fifteen years of hard work and finding the right material, the master for the first time received a "mottled" glaze, similar to marble with multi-colored inclusions. In the 1550s he opened a new way of decorating faience, calling it "rural clay". These were large shallow oval plates with wide edges, decorated with paintings of wildlife. Bernard Palissy decorated dishes with small animals, snakes, fish, insects in a natural size. And they were as alive because of the rich, natural colors. Gradually Bernard's products turned into works of art. In addition to these works, in parallel he tears off the "jasper" glaze, which surprises with the transparency and depth of shades, especially the blue and green colors.

Gradually, the glory came to Bernard Palissy, and with it money. He moved to Paris, where he built a workshop. To him began to handle orders of the nobles and even the King of France Henry the Second. All the products of the master quickly sold out. Asked what books he read for such a skillful work, Bernard Palissy replied: "I did not have another book, except for the book of Heaven and Earth known to everyone, and everyone can read and study it". And he added that his teachers are observation and living intelligence.

Having gained a little financially, Bernard did not stop working on himself anymore - he independently studied chemistry, physics, geology, agronomy. And the received knowledge generously shared with all comers. He began writing books about the nature of water, artificial and natural sources, about metals, salts, stones and earth . In addition, Bernard Palissy first put forward the hypothesis that fossils are not just a game of nature, but fossil remains of ancient animals. I collected a collection of various minerals. The master considered the water to be the basis and cradle of life, therefore so often depicted her and aquatic animals in his works.

But he had Bernard Palissy and his secrets - for example, the secret of "rural clay" has not been disclosed so far. And this is not through the whims of the master. "Even if I write thousands of sheets of paper to describe my skills and how I reached it, even the smartest will make a thousand mistakes if they use the written, not doing the regular practice". Therefore, he informed the composition of his glazes, but he never said proportions. Perhaps, he considered the process some kind of magic, and not just technology, but maybe he was not allowed to resent for many years of humiliation and ridicule. In history, there were many inventors who carried away the secrets of their inventions to the grave.

And in conclusion - a few words about the end of Bernard Palissy's life. In 1588 the master came to the Bastille for being a Protestant. King Henry the Third offered him freedom for renouncing his religious views. But Bernard refused and soon died in prison.

Bernard Palissy's works are still considered masterpieces of art today, they are the pride of such museums as the Louvre, the Hermitage, the British Museum. The largest collection (up to 160 works) is in France at the National Ceramics Museum in the city of Sevres. In the courtyard of this museum stands a bronze statue of Bernard Palissy.