Review: Da Vinci Series 1523 Russian Red Sable Travel Watercolor Brush

This is the Da Vinci Series 1523 Russian red sable travel watercolour brush. Latest addition to my watercolour brush collection.

You might remember that I've also reviewed the very similar Da Vinci Series 1503 travel watercolour brush.

So what's the difference? There is none as far as I can see or feel after using them for months.

This is a collapsible brush whose body is made of hard plastic, metal to hold the hair and the kolinsky hair, also known as the red sable. The hair is from the Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica) that lives in Ussuri River that runs through Russia and Northeast China. I guess that's why there's the word USSURI stamped on the brush's body.

This is a shorter brush as compared to Series 910 Maestro Voyage travel brush, which also uses the same hair.

Let's compare some of Da Vinci's various travel watercolour brushes.

From top to bottom:

Series 1523 and 1503.

I've been using the 1503 Maestro brush for two years already (since my last review), and it's starting to feel a bit worn, but it's still able to keep its sharp edge as shown above.

The series 1523 brush is compact enough to fit into some watercolour boxes.


The hair is firm, and goes back to shape after painting.

Kolinsky hair holds a lot of water as compared to synthetic hair. They are great for bigger areas of washes.

You can also flick the brush hard to force out water from the hair. After which you can collect pools of water from your paper, or wash it before putting new colours on it.

Sable hair is always better than synthetic and with care they can last quite long.


In terms of quality, there's no difference between Series 1503 and 1523.

Overall, Da Vinci Series 1523 travel watercolour brush are great, and definitely worth the money.

As for price, I find Series 1503 to be slightly cheaper. And there are more sizes for Series 1503 (from 1 to 12) as compared to Series 1523 which has only sizes for 1 to 6.


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | (UK)

If you like fine detailed work, I would recommend getting size 2 plus either a size 4 or 6. If you working on larger areas, I would recommend size 6 and the series 1503 size 8.

Two sketches I drew with the brush.

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