- Also known as
primary name: Laurie, Robert
other name: Lowrie, Robert
- individual; publisher/printer; printmaker; British; Male
- Life dates
- 17 Rosomonds Row, Clerkenwell (1780)
53 Fleet Street, London
- British mezzotinter, inventor of colour printing in mezzotint in 1776, later turned print publisher. Son of a trussmaker; 1770-7, apprenticed to Robert Sayer (q.v.), and later manager. In 1794, when Sayer died Laurie and James Whittle (q.v.) took over the business, trading as Laurie and Whittle. Both families lived at 53 Fleet Street, as well as domestic staff, warehouseman, assistant and two printers (see Whittle's will, 1811). Laurie retired in 1812, moving to Broxbourne, Herfordshire, where he died in 1836.
For his method of colour printing, which he disclosed in return for a premium of 30 guineas, see the 'Transactions of the Society of Arts' II 1784, pp.139, 145, 148. It reads: 'A copper plate, with an etched or engraved outline, dotted next to the lights, and filled in with mezzotinto ground, is printed in colours, after nature, or from a picture, by the following process. The plate being warmed in the usual manner, the colours are applied by means of stump camel hair pencils, to the different parts, as the subject suggests; it is then wiped clean with a coarse gauze canvas, any other being improper; after this it is wiped clean with the hand as in common practise; and again being warmed is passed through the press. The colours are mixed with burnt linseed oil, and those generally used by painters are proper.'
For the history of the publishing firm, see entry for Robert Sayer.
The business traded under a series of names each of which has a separate entry on the Biographical Authority; the name entered in a catalogue entry should correspond with that given on a print.
Chaloner Smith stated that the name Henry Birche found on some plates was a pseudonym of Earlom. Christopher Lennox-Boyd suggests instead that it could be a pseudonym for Laurie used when working for other publshers while employed by Sayer: Lennox-Boyd refers to a first state impression of a mezzotint in the Hornby Print collection at Liverpool, which suggests that the plate was Laurie's, but 'finished' by Earlom.
- Chaloner Smith (41 nos)