Laurie, Robert (DNB00)

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LAURIE, ROBERT (1755?–1836), mezzotint engraver, born about 1755, was descended from the Lauries of Maxwelton, Dumfriesshire. He received from the Society of Arts in 1770 a silver palette for a drawing from a picture, and in 1773, 1775, and 1776 premiums for designs of patterns for calico-printing. His earliest portraits in mezzotint are dated 1771, and from that time until 1774 his name appears on them variously as Lowery, Lowry, Lowrie, Lawrey, Lawrie, or Laurie. He invented a method of printing mezzotinto engravings in colours, and for its disclosure he received from the Society of Arts in 1776 a bounty of thirty guineas. Early in 1794, in partnership with James Whittle, he succeeded to the business long carried on by Robert Sayer at the Golden Buck in Fleet Street, as a publisher of engravings, maps, charts, and nautical works. The most important charts published by this firm were Cook's 'Survey of the South Coast of Newfoundland' (1776) and the 'Surveys of St. George's Channel,' &c. (1777). Laurie then gave up the practice of engraving. He retired from business in 1812, and the firm was continued as Whittle & Laurie, but the business was conducted by his son, Richard Holmes Laurie, who, on the death of Whittle in 1818, became the sole proprietor. De la Rochette and John Purdy were the hydrographers to the firm. Robert Laurie died at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on 19 May 1836, aged 81. His son died at 53 Fleet Street, on 19 Jan. 1858, also at the age of eighty-one, leaving two daughters.

Laurie's plates are well drawn and carefully finished, and his groups possess considerable merit. His principal subject prints are: 'The Adoration of the Magi,' 'The Return from Egypt,' 'The Crucifixion,' and 'St. John the Evangelist,' after Rubens; 'The Crucifixion,' after Vandyck; 'The Incredulity of St. Thomas,' after Rembrandt; 'The Holy Family,' after Guercino; 'Christ crucified,' after Annibale Carracci; 'The Adoration of the Magi,' after Andrea Casali; 'The Quack Doctor,' after Dietrich; 'The Flemish Rat-catcher' and 'The Itinerant Singer,' after Ostade; 'The Wrath of Achilles,' after Antoine Coypel; 'A Hard Gale' and 'A Squall,' after Joseph Vernet; 'The Oath of Calypso,' 'Diana and her Nymphs bathing,' and a 'Madonna,' after Angelica Kaufmann; 'Sunrise: landscape with fishermen,' after George Barret; 'The Naval Victory of Lord Rodney,' after Robert Dodd; 'Young Lady confessing to a Monk,' after William Millar; 'Court of Equity, or Convivial City Meeting,' after Robert Dighton; 'The Rival Milliners' and 'The Jealous Maids,' after John Collet; 'The Full of the Honeymoon' and 'The Wane of the Honeymoon,' after Francis Wheatley, R.A.; a scene from 'She Stoops to Conquer,' with portraits of Shuter, Quick, and Mrs. Green, after Thomas Parkinson; and a scene from the 'School for Scandal,' with portraits of Mrs. Abington, King, Smith, and Palmer, from a drawing by himself.

His best portraits are those of George III and Queen Charlotte, after Zoffany; Queen Charlotte, with the Princess Royal and Princess Sophia Augusta, and George, prince of Wales, with Frederick, duke of York, two groups after his own designs; David Garrick, after Sir Joshua Reynolds; 'Garrick led off the Stage by Time towards the Temple of Fame,' after Thomas Parkinson; Garrick with Mrs. Bellamy, as Romeo and Juliet, after Benjamin Wilson; Mrs. Baddeley, the actress, after Zoffany; Elizabeth Gunning, duchess of Argyll, two plates after Catharine Read; Jemima, countess Cornwallis, after Sir Joshua Reynolds; Richard, earl Howe, after P. Mequignon; John, earl St. Vincent, after T. Stewart; Étienne François, duke of Choiseul, full-length, after J. B. Van Loo; Georgiana, duchess of Devonshire; Joseph Ames, F.R.S.; and a series of twelve portraits of actors, after Dighton.

[Gent. Mag. 1836 ii. 108, 1858 i. 561–3; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves, 1886–9, ii. 26; Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878–83, ii. 796–810; Dodd's Memorials of Engravers (Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 33394–407), ix. ff. 259–61.]

R. E. G.