The Society of Figurative Arts’ mission here is to support product lines that maintain a focused commitment to the professional artist.

TSoFA has been examining the characteristics of hog bristle brushes for the professional oil painter. These tests have taken several weeks, here are the observations. The top manufacturers of professional-grade hog bristle brushes, in no particular order, are Escoda, Raphael, Isabey, and Da Vinci.

The Society of Figurative Arts’ mission here is to support product lines that maintain a focused commitment to the professional artist.

We tested the interlocking cupped versions of the four top tier brands over the past couple of months. What we found was a great deal of parity in terms of quality.

What we have listed below are the manufacturers’ blurbs, followed by TSoFA’s assessment.

Isabey Chungking – ‘This high-quality bristle brush is stiff and coarse, it’s designed to withstand the weight and wear of oil and acrylic paints. The interlocking curved bristle maintains a tight and precise brush shape that resists splaying. This handmade brush possesses a high degree of spring, precision, and durability, with the most hairs per square inch of any bristle brush, and an extra-thick tuft for maximum paint load. The tip allows for exceptional control. It has a long polished handle.

TSOFA OBSERVATIONS: ‘stiff and course’ only slightly more so than ESCODA CLASICO, and RAPHAEL D’ARTIGNY (EXTRA WHITE). This could be a stiffer bristle itself or the result of the ‘extra-thick tuff’ and ‘the most hairs per square inch.’ it does indeed have excellent spring as do the Escoda Clasico and the Raphael D’Artigny. All the brushes parity in handle length ‘extra long’ but the Isbabey Yellow Handle is fatter and weightier than the others. This brush feels very good in the hand and has a balanced feel.

Raphael D’Artigny –Superb spring, maximum brushstroke control, and a large color carrying capacity —all in a brush that’s priced for value.
Raphaël Extra White Bristle brushes are exceptionally strong and long-wearing. They are crafted from interlocking, extra-white hog bristles that are carefully selected for superior quality based on their natural curve.
Each brush has a varnished, natural wooden handle with a seamless nickel ferrule.

TSOFA OBSERVATIONS:Superb Spring‘ our overall consensus is that Isabey (Yellow Handle) Chungking, Escoda Clasico, and Raphael D’Artigny have similar spring while the Da Vinci Maestro 2 has a noticeable softer spring or bounce. ‘maximum brushstroke control’ is marketing mumbo jumbo which has a number of variables. Pigment load based on tuft thickness being a major factor here. It one wishes to work more painterly the Isabey Yellow Handle or the previously tested Raphael Paris Classic are the better choices the other three have excellent load capacities as well. Chungking Hog-Bristles are brushes for Painters who like paint. All the brushes tested offer good brushstroke control. If one needs maximum control and is devoted to detail they will be more content with synthetics or sables. Hog-Bristles are for oil painters that love brush-strokes and the pull of paint coming off the brush. ‘Superior quality’ that applies to all brushes tested. ‘Priced for value‘. The cost was not a criterion here but if it is a factor for you the Raphael Extra-White may fit the bill. We did not find any quality differential with other brands tested.

‘Interlocking natural curve.’ All professional-grade brushes look good at retail because they are sized with gum arabic to maintain their shape. (this is the only time the brush will ever look like this and the sizing should be removed before their first use.) The top manufacturers use top quality materials and select extra-long hairs based on their natural curve. Many also use ‘cupping’ to help form and shape the brush. ‘Strong and long-wearing’ is a given for top-tier professional-grade brushes.

Escoda Clasico –Escoda handcrafts premium-quality bristle to create a superior quality brush that stands up beautifully to heavy paint. Escoda’s patented curing process accentuates the memory of the bristles. The Clasico Chungking White Bristle retains its original shape and handles wonderfully. The long, natural varnished handle offers plenty of control. It’s attached to the nickel ferrule using Escoda’s exclusive triple crimping process.

TSOFA OBSERVATIONS: ‘handcrafted’ In itself, this is meaningless. The critical aspect here is who’s hands. Escoda makes many outstanding brushes, and their Bristles are no exception. ‘Curing Process’ We are not sure why this claim is needed or what it means. 

‘Memory of the bristles‘ Brushes tested are at parity. 

‘Retains original shape.’ As we stated earlier, none of these brushes retain the shape they had at point-of-purchase. Handles have no unique characteristics, but the ‘triple crimped ferrule’ is an Escoda trademark.  

Da Vinci Maestro 2 ‘Da Vinci Maestro 2 Hog Bristle brushes are meticulously crafted with extra strong yet elastic double-boiled bristles to offer more spring and longer life. Hand-shaped, interlocking bristles provide excellent color-carrying ability. Stiffer, fatter hairs have been removed to ensure better flags at the tip. The durable, seamless, nickel-plated, brass ferrules hold the bristles securely without rusting.

TSOFA OBSERVATIONS:‘extra strong yet elastic’ These brushes have a softer bounce back, which we guess they referral’s to as more spring. ‘Double-Boiled’ This creates a more delicate brush that has little to do with its life span. ‘Interlocking Bristles.’ It is our understanding that the double boiling process straightens out bristles, and we noticed this brush loses a little of its curve after a few uses. ‘Removing Stiffer Fatter hairs’ to ensure better flags. We will take them at their word on this one. These brushes do have a little softer stroke, which will appeal to some painters.

ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS:Kolibri Chunkings’ is an add-on here because it stood up to our testing procedures very well. They really do not make very many product claims other than standard process. They are made in Germany and have a very old lineage.

They seem to have little exposure at retail and are primarily a mail-order brand in the USA


Bristles‘ Raphael D’Artigny, and Escoda similar; Isabey Yellow Handles stiffer, Da Vinci Maestro 2 softer.

Handles‘ Isabey Yellow Handles thicker and balanced weight.

‘Ferrules’ Escoda Clásico – triple-crimped.

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