Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

Menu

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.

John Cobley

1944
Nora Heysen AM

pencil on paper (frame: 58.5 cm x 47.7 cm, sight: 36.0 cm x 26.5 cm)

John Cobley (1914-1989), doctor, historian and television host, studied at State schools, won a scholarship to the University of Sydney and graduated in medicine and science in 1937. Proceeding to England as a ship’s surgeon, he undertook further training before returning to Sydney to work at Sydney Hospital and in private practice in Macquarie Street. Commissioned on 1 July 1940 as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps, AIF, he served in the Greek campaign (1941), in the occupation of Syria (1941) and the battle of El Alamein, Egypt. In 1943-45 he was in New Guinea as a major and was mentioned in despatches, probably for his work on scrub typhus. Back in Sydney his chief interest was diabetes, on which he worked at the Royal Hospital for Women, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital. He was a member of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, of which he became a Fellow in 1978. From 1966 to 1968, he appeared on Sydney television as ‘Dr John’ on Channel Seven’s Casebook. Over a period of more than twenty years between 1962 and 1986, helped by his wife, he published a series entitled Sydney Cove. The five volumes, recording daily events in the settlement from 1788 to 1800 in the words of contemporary writers, contributed much to the popularisation of Australian history. He wrote scholarly articles on medicine in the colony in the early days of settlement, and several biographies for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. His books include The Convicts 1788-1792 (1964), The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts (1970) and The Crimes of the Lady Juliana Convicts, 1790 (1989).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012
© Estate of Nora Heysen

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Nora Heysen AM (age 33 in 1944)

John Cobley (age 30 in 1944)

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.

Nora Heysen

'This peaceful spot'

Portrait story

Australian artist, Nora Heysen, discusses her childhood and the development of her career.

Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645

The considered life

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2010

Andrew Sayers asks whether a portrait can truly be the examination of a life.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency