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Italian Lithograph
MFA 1995.456
Black Bear


A large, heavily furred, carnivore of the family Ursidae, such as the brown bear (species Ursus). Bear fur has been used for rugs and coats while the fibers have been used for artist brushes. The guard hairs are usually brown or black with lengths up to 3-4 inches. For artist brushes, brown bear fibers are used in bushy mop style brushes. until the 1940s bear hair was also used in stiff mottler brushes for faux finishes as well as in mixtures with skunk hairs to make brushes for varnishing cast iron (Pinney 1999).

Kodiak Brown Bear

Synonyms and Related Terms

Ursus; bear coat; bear rug

Physical and Chemical Properties

Stiff, brown or black. Lengths up to 4 inches (10 cm)

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Edward Reich, Carlton J. Siegler, Consumer Goods: How to Know and Use Them, American Book Company, New York City, 1937
  • Zora Sweet Pinney, 'A Handle on the Terms used for Artists' Brushes', unpublished glossary, 1999
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998