Robert Laurie


Robert Laurie (fl. 1750-1795) invented a new method of "Coloured MezzoTinto" in 1776, and The Poa was the plate with which he demonstrated the process to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Based on his drawing of a tui, the skin of which had been brought back to England by Captain James Cook after his first voyage to New Zealand, Laurie won a Bounty of thirty guineas - a very substantial sum at the time.

Laurie's colour printing was done from copper plates; he was sixty years ahead of Baxter's colour prints and almost a century ahead of colour lithography. The plate was later published in Peter Brown's New Illustrations of Zoology, 1776, and is the first published picture of a New Zealand bird. You can read the whole story about this rare early colour print with a NZ connection in a recent article in NZ Art Print News - "Charming story of a very early colour print".