palette knife

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Gustave Courbet (1819—1877) French painter

John Constable (1776—1837) landscape painter and draughtsman



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A thin, flexible, dull-edged blade, set in a handle, used for mixing paint, scraping it off the palette or canvas, and also as a painting instrument (although more delicate tools—‘painting knives’, shaped like miniature trowels—are often preferred for this purpose). Palette knives were in use by the 17th century and became popular in the 18th century. Today the blades are invariably made of steel, but other materials, including ivory, have been used in the past. Courbet is sometimes credited with inventing the specialized trowel-shaped painting knife, but Constable had earlier used a similar implement.

Subjects: Art.

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