Ralph Bernal



Collector of glass, plate, ceramics, and miniatures.


According to Helen Davies, entry in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

'After his death ... the Society of Arts tried to persuade the government to buy the collection en bloc for the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum), for which it was in many ways extremely suitable, but despite the energetic support of the curator, John Charles Robinson, to no avail, although some of the pieces were to reach the public collections. Two catalogues of the collection were issued, and it was sold at auction; there were over 4000 lots, which realized £70,000. The prices attained in 1855 were immense, although the pictures and ceramics were regarded as of little value by the critics of the Art Journal. Bernal himself had formed the collection with some judgement but comparatively little expense.' The V&A catalogue shows 46 pieces from the dispersal of the Bernal Collection.

A number of catalogues of the collections, and of the sales of them, took place. These include ones in 1824, 1855, 1857 and 1889:

Ralph Bernal, A Catalogue of the very Select and truly Precious Cabinet of Thirty-Seven highly finished Dutch Pictures, of the finest class, and in the purest state of preservation, of Ralph Bernal ... Which will be sold by auction, by Mr. Christie ... May the 8th, 1824, etc. (London, 1824). 8pp.

Ralph Bernal, Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of Works of Art, from the Byzantine period to that of Louis Seize, of ... R. Bernal ... Which ... will be sold by auction, etc. [With plates.] (London, W. Clowes & Sons, 1855). pp. 357. [Various editions of this.]

Ralph Bernal, A Guide to the Knowledge of Pottery, Porcelain and other objects of vertu. Comprising an illustrated catalogue of the Bernal collection of works of art ... To which are added an introductory essay on pottery and porcelain, and an engraved list of marks and monograms (London, H. G. Bohn, 1857); pp. xxxviii+504; 2nd edn. corrected, 1862.

Mrs Ralph Bernal, Catalogue of Objects of Art, Old English Silver Plate, and Decorative Furniture, of Mrs. Ralph Bernal, deceased ... nearly all were the property of the late Mr. Ralph Bernal ... which ... will be sold by auction, by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods ... February 28, 1889, and following day, etc. (Wm. Clowes & Sons: London, 1889); 20pp.


Bernal also had an engraving dedicated to him:

George Fennel Robson, West View of the City of Rochester. To Ralph Bernal Esq M.P. for Rochester, an admirer and patron of Embellished Literature & Fine Arts; this plate is inscribed by The Editor (London, J. Britton, 1826). [Graphic]

Further Information

Dispersal Date
30th Nov -0001
Dispersal Year
Auction House
See notes for details
Auction Catalogue?
Catalogue Title

See notes for details