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A painting or drawing implement consisting of flexible fibres set in a handle. Prehistoric artists used materials such as feathers and leaves to apply paint and the Egyptians used an implement consisting simply of a reed with the end macerated to separate the fibres, but animal hairs have been used since the ancient Greeks and are still the most important materials. For watercolour painting the ‘sable’ brush (made from the fur of the Siberian mink) is the best type; the ‘camel-hair’ brush (usually made from squirrel hair) is cheaper, but lacks springiness and durability. For oil painting a stiffer type of brush is needed; the best quality ones are made of white hog bristles. Synthetic fibres have been used since the 1960s; polyester has proved superior to nylon and has sometimes been blended with animal hairs to combine toughness with resilience. See also pencil.

Subjects: Art.

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