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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Dr John Yu, 2004

Ah Xian

glazed ceramic

John Yu AC (b. 1934), paediatrician and administrator, was born in Nanking, China, and came to Australia when he was three years old. Educated in Sydney, from 1961 he worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (now the Children’s Hospital, Westmead), becoming its Head of Medicine and serving for 19 years as its Chief Executive before retiring in 1997. For many years he has chaired and served on diverse bodies related to children’s health, education, medicine and the arts. Chancellor of the University of New South Wales from 2000 to 2005 and Chair of the Australia-China Council from 2000 to 2006, he was a member of the board of trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1997 to 2006, when he was made a Life Governor of the gallery. Since 2003 he has been Chair of VisAsia, promoting appreciation of Asian visual arts and culture. He has published books and many papers on paediatrics, management and decorative arts, and holds several honorary doctorates. Yu was Australian of the Year in 1996.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2004

Accession number: 2004.186

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ah Xian (age 44 in 2004)

John Yu AC (age 70 in 2004)

Subject professions

Health and medicine

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Interview wtih Dr John Yu video: 2 minutes
Interview wtih Dr John Yu video: 2 minutes
Interview wtih Dr John Yu video: 2 minutes
Interview wtih Dr John Yu video: 2 minutes

Dr John Yu

Portrait story

An interview with the acclaimed pediatrician Dr. John Yu who describes the process of having his portrait sculpture created by artist Ah Xian.

Dr John Yu, 2004 Ah Xian
Dr John Yu, 2004 Ah Xian
Dr John Yu, 2004 Ah Xian
Dr John Yu, 2004 Ah Xian

Clay, water, fire

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2005

Ah Xian's porcelain portrait of paediatrician Dr. John Yu reflects Yu's heritage and interests.

Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell

Uncommon Australians

The vision of Gordon and Marilyn Darling

Previous exhibition, 2015

This exhibition showcases portraits acquired through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patrons, L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.