Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Sloane

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

Contents Foreword Introduction Catalogue scope Abbreviations Arrangement of entries

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753)

Collector and physician; born in co. Down, Ireland; MD University of Orange (near Avignon), 1683; member of the College of Physicians and physician to the governor of Jamaica, 1687, returning after the latter's death, 1689, with a major collection of plant and animal specimens; a secretary of the Royal Society, 1693-1712, he revived the Philosophical Transactions;published, 1696, his Catalogue of the plants of Jamaica and, 1701, Voyage to Islands of Madera, Barbadoes, Nieves, St. Christopher's and Jamaica (vol. II, 1725); physician to Queen Anne, 1712;physician-general to the Army and created baronet, 1716; president of the Royal College of Physicians, 1719, and the Royal Society, 1727-41; bequeathed the Chelsea Physic Garden to the Apothecaries Society; his vast collection of books, MS, prints, coins etc. became the nucleus of the British Museum. [1]

569 By Stephen Slaughter, 1736
Oil on canvas, 49 ½ x 39 ¾ in. (1257 x 1010 mm); dark blue-grey eyes, heavy lids, arched dark eyebrows, a pimple on his left cheek, double chin, full-bottom wig; long white lace cravat with round (silver?) pendants, white wrist ruffles, brown velvet coat; green-backed chair surmounted by arms and motto NVLLIVS IN VERBA of the Royal Society, in his left hand a botanical drawing partially unrolled and lettered down the right Fig. 3. / Fig.1. / Fig.1.2.3. / Lagetto;on a table, right, the presidential mace and, in a niche behind, statue of the Ephesian Diana.

Signed and dated on the drawing, bottom left: Stepn. Slaughter / Pinxt. 1736.

The diagram of the Lagetta or lace bark, formerly used as a substitute for lace in Jamaica, is from the drawing by E. Kickius in Voyage to the Islands of Madera . .. . [2]

The original is in the Sloane Herbarium, Natural History Museum. [3] The armchair, presumably representing the Royal Society's presidential chair, does not correspond with any known example. [4]

A head and shoulders copy of NPG 569 is in the board room of the Natural History Museum.

Condition:varnish yellowed, paint flattened in old relining; pin holes in corners.

Collections:transferred, 1879, from the British Museum (formerly Montagu House [5]), possibly acquired with Sloane's collections in 1754.

Exhibited:'Portraits of Early Fellows', Royal Society, 1960; 'The Heritage from Newton and Linnaeus', Stockholm, 1962 (15).

Literature:G.R. de Beer, Sir Hans Sloane and the British Museum, 1953; J.R. Fawcett Thompson and F. Gordon Roe, 'Some Oil Portraits in the British Museum', Connoisseur,CXLVII, 1961; The Royal College of Physicians of London Portraits,ed. G. Wolstenholme and D. Piper, 1964.


Described, 1683, when he received his Doctor of Physics degree, University of Orange, as, 'Of medium height, hair very short, light chestnut, face rather long and grave, marked with the small pox, aged 21 [recte] 23 years'. [6]


The earliest known portrait, [7] attributed to Kneller, is a head and shoulders of c.1700owned by the Sloane-Stanley family at Paultons. A portrait by Kneller of 1716 engraved by Faber junior, 1729, was given by the sitter to the Royal Society and another by Thomas Murray of c.1725, engraved by Faber junior in 1728, was in the Royal College of Physicians by 1733 when noted there by Vertue 'Sir H. Sloane. at len'. [8] A whole length in scarlet and rose MD gown, painted in 1730 by Richardson, was presented by the sitter to Oxford in the following year. [9] A seated whole length in the British Museum showing the sitter as president of the Royal Society is ascribed to Vanderbank. A statue by Rysbrack is in the Chelsea Physic Garden [10] and the related terracotta bust, in the British Museum.


1. de Beer, pp.13ff.; Wolstenholme and Piper, pp.390-91.
2. Vol. II, table 168.
3. Engraved by Van der Gucht; BM (Nat. Hist.) The Sloane Herbarium, 1958, p.204.
4. Thompson and Roe, p.114.
5. Purchased by the trustees, 1753, opened as a museum 1759 and demolished c.1850, Colvin, p.296.
6. de Beer, p.20; the degree of Doctor of Medicine translated in English as Doctor of Physic.
7. An account of the portraits given by Wolstenholme and Piper, p.392.
8. Vertue, IV, p.55.
9. Poole, I, p.101 (252); now in the Bodleian library.
10. de Beer, reproduced pl.4.