John Desmond Bernal
© Wolfgang Suschitzky / National Portrait Gallery, London
John Desmond Bernal
by Wolfgang Suschitzky
bromide print, 14 April 1949
11 5/8 in. x 9 3/4 in. (295 mm x 248 mm)
This portraitback to top
A scientific polymath, Bernal was Professor of Physics (1938-63) and the first Professor of Crystallography (1963-8) at Birkbeck College, London University. His research included work on the tobacco mosaic virus, sex hormones, the structure and property of water and the chemical processes involved in the origin of matter. His publications include The Social Functions of Science (1939) and Science in History (1954). Bernal served during the Second World War as an adviser to Home Security, Bomber Command and Combined Operations, and was photographed by Suschitzky in 1949 at his microscope.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 253
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 53
Events of 1949back to top
Current affairsFollowing the Republic of Ireland Act in 1948, the Irish Free State becomes the Republic of Ireland and leaves the Commonwealth. The functions previously given to the King were handed to the President of Ireland.
The Second Parliament Act diminishes the power of the House of Lords, reducing their authority to delay bills from two years to one.
Art and scienceGeorge Orwell publishes his dystopian novel, 1984. The book imagines a future where totalitarian governments rule; their power based on continual war abroad, and overwhelming propaganda and surveillance at home. With 'Big Brother' keeping a constant check on the citizens' actions and thoughts, the individual loses the faculties of free will and independent thought.
InternationalThe People's Republic of China is created after the Communist Party wins the Civil War. China became a communist country under Mao Zedong.
Cold War tensions increase as Germany is split into the democratic Federal Republic of Germany in the west (a union of the post-war British, French and American sectors), and the communist German Democratic Republic, in the east.