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John Desmond Bernal (1901-1971), Scientist

Sitter in 6 portraits
Crystallographer. Born in Ireland, John Desmond Bernal studied at Cambridge (1919-23) where his encyclopaedic knowledge earned him the nickname 'Sage'. Concern about poverty inspired his studies and the influence of Marxism, evident in The Social Function of Science (1939). Appointed the first lecturer in Structural Crystallography at Cambridge, Bernal became assistant director of the Cavendish Laboratory in 1934. In 1963 he became the first Professor of Crystallography at Birkbeck College. He served during the Second World War as an adviser to Home Security, Bomber Command and Combined Operations.

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John Desmond Bernal

by Edmond Xavier Kapp
lithographic chalk, 1920s
NPG 6090


John Desmond Bernal

by Ramsey & Muspratt
bromide print, 1932
NPG P363(3)


John Desmond Bernal

by Ramsey & Muspratt
bromide print, 1933
NPG P363(4)


John Desmond Bernal

by Wolfgang Suschitzky
bromide print, 14 April 1949
NPG P304


John Desmond Bernal

by Peter de Francia
oil on canvas, 1966
On display in Room 32 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 6396


John Desmond Bernal

by Henry Grant
bromide print, circa 1970
NPG x4166