Slaughter, Stephen (1697–1765), portrait painter, was, according to Ellis Waterhouse, probably baptised in London on 13 January 1697. He made frequent visits to Ireland and became a fashionable portrait painter in Dublin and London, noted for his particular skill in the painting of costumes. According to George Vertue he may have been the ‘Mr. Slaughter’ who subscribed to Godfrey Kneller's Academy in 1712 and spent some time in Paris and Flanders before returning to London in 1733, the year of publication of his earliest known work, an etching after a drawing by Parmaginino. Slaughter was first recorded in Dublin in 1734, when he painted the portrait of Nathaniel Kane, lord mayor of Dublin, now in the NGI (engraved by John Brooks (qv)). He was back in England in the late 1730s, as he painted some pictures in oils and crayons for Earl Spencer at Althorp between 1736 and 1739. While he was again in Ireland in the 1740s, in 1744 he became keeper of the king's pictures, a position he held until his death. His ‘Four children of Sir Edward Walpole’, signed and dated 1747 (Minneapolis Institute of Art), was described by Waterhouse as his most ‘lively and ambitious’ known portrait.
Among his Irish sitters was John Hoadley (qv), archbishop of Armagh; the portrait is signed and dated 1744 and is held in the NGI. Others include Michael Cox (qv), bishop of Ossory (Christies sale, 16 November 1962), Sir Edward O'Brien, bt, and Samuel Madden (qv). The National Portrait Gallery in London has Slaughter's 1736 portrait of the Irishman Sir Hans Sloane (qv), president of the Royal Society, whose collections and library formed the basis of the British Museum. He also painted the first British prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, in 1740. Strickland lists some thirty portraits. According to Horace Walpole, ‘He had a sister that excelled in imitating bronzes and bas-reliefs to the highest degree of deception.’ Slaughter died 15 May 1765 in Kensington.