Attributed to Bernard Palissy, Platter, ca 1510-1589. Lead-glazed earthenware. Museum purchase through the Theresa E. and Harlan E. Moore Charitable Trust Fund. 1988-10-1
Create your own Palissy-inspired habitat plate!

Take a Look

This artwork was made about 500 years ago by a French artist named Bernard Palissy. He was both an artist and a scientist.

What do you think this ceramic plate was used for?

The animals and plants decorating this dish are very realistic. Can you identify any of them?

Can you find these animals:

  • snake
  • fish
  • lizard
  • frog
  • dragonfly
  • beetle

Notice the arrangement of the animals. How are they posed? Where or what do you think they are moving towards?

What story do they tell about the environment? Could this dish tell a story? 

Palissy was interested in nature and created art that reflected the environment around him. He collected animal, plant, and mineral specimens from ponds and lakes around his home so he could learn about them.



  • Play dough or clay (If you have flour, water, and salt, you can make your own play dough at home).
  • A paper plate or some type of dish
  • Paper
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Plants, grass, or leaves from outside

Your Habitat Plate

The Palissy plate shows us the the plants and animals of a small pond habitat.

For this activity, pick a habitat that you would like to represent on your own Palissy plate.

Think about what plants and animals are in the habitat and then think about how you want to arrange them.

See the image in the slideshow above for inspiration or download the image to look more closely.

Our plate tells the story of a watering hole on the Serengeti plains of Africa. Some of the plants and animals on the plate represent the types of living things you would find in this habitat. In the middle of the plate is a crocodile, a predator. Walking around the outside of the plate are elephants, a group of gazelles, and a giraffe. Yellow grasses and a lone tree are the plant life that the elephants, gazelles, and giraffe would eat to survive.


What story do you want your habitat plate to tell? What animals, plants, and land help you tell the story?