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Bavarian brush
MFA# 2006.550


A tool composed of a handle holding natural or synthetic bristles. Brushes are used for cleaning, grooming, polishing, writing, or painting. Natural bristles are obtained from the back or shoulders of swine (hogs, pigs, or boars). They can be white, yellow, bronze, gray, or black. From the 16th century to 1917, Russia was the major exporter of brush bristles (usually white). China began exporting natural black bristles in 1889 to the U.S. and these quickly gained in popularity. Currently most natural hair bristles come from India. A flag, or split end, adds to the paint carrying ability of the bristle. Some plant fibers, such as piassava, are also used for brush bristles. Synthetic bristles are various stiff monofilament fibers such as nylon and Polyethylene.

Red sable Conservator Brushes

Synonyms and Related Terms

brushes; brosse

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996
  • F. Kidd, Brushmaking Materials, Bristish Brush Manufacturers, London, 1957
  • Zora Sweet Pinney, 'A Handle on the Terms used for Artists' Brushes', unpublished glossary, 1999