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.

We have included other manufacturers in the past, but recent acquisitions of these companies by large conglomerates brings into question their commitment to quality. These companies buy name brands remanufacture cheaper versions of their products, then milk the reputation as long as possible.

Hold on to your old Robert Simmons Signets forever they have now changed hands twice in recent years. Their quality is a thing of the past.

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

The first brush category we tested was the hog bristle for oils. The finest hog bristles come from boars rised near Chungking China. Where hog bristles come from varies based on supply and demand. Reputable manufacturers use the best available.

The first brush we tested is the Raphael Paris Classic. We are starting with this brush because it has some very unique qualities which almost put it into a separate category.

Firstly this brush does not have interlocking hairs, a distinction that causes some confusion.

The bristles of these brushes are straight and almost pure white.

The hairs are double-boiled for multiple hours, creating softer brushes with straighter hairs. The Paris Classic is noticeably softer than conventional hog bristles, and the hairs are straight instead of interlocking.

Conventional interlocking bristles splay a little less but tend to separate at the end of the stroke, whereas the Paris Classic brush-stroke is smooth thoughout.

This brush is for painters that like to see paint. They hold more pigment than their interlocking counterparts and deliver more paint with each stroke of the brush. They were developed by the Impressionist’s to create looser, more expressive brush strokes.

There is a significant misconception about brushes that needs mention here. The ones with the prettiest shape, i.e., the crispest edges are not the best brushes. Sharper edges mean fewer bristles which means it holds less paint which means it separates more at the end of the stroke.

When painters talk about a brush holding it shape they are referring to the shape it had right off the display.

When one buys a brush, a gum arabic solution has been applied to hold the bristles together. Once the gum arabic solution is gone, so is the original shape.

The Raphael Paris Classic will probably not be the brush that looks best in the display, but they provide professional performance with significant paint handling characteristics and control.

The brush in their lineup that has some unique qualities is the short Filbert it is not only well suited for putting paint down but an excellent tool to move paint around and sculpt it on the canvas.

The four manufacturers selected Escoda, Da Vinci, Isabey, and Raphael all make professional-grade products at the top tier. Brush characteristics differ and the needs of the individual painter differ so classifications of in any sort of pecking order would be irrelevant.

TSoFA does not give out star ratings or try to establish a hierarchy between brands. These evaluations are performed to provide the professional and advanced amateur with information about the handling characteristics of professional grade products

Next up Da Vinci Maestro II


Leave a Reply