The word is an old Germanic synonym for donkey (compare similar semantics); its equivalent is the only word for both animal and apparatus in various languages, such as Esel in German and Afrikaans and earlier ezel in Dutch (the easel generally in full schildersezel, 'painter's donkey'), themselves derived from Latin Asinus (hence ass), interestingly in Danish the word is staffeli and donkey is æsel.
It is most often used to hold up a painter's canvas or large sketchbook while the artist is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition. The simplest form of an artist's easel, a tripod, consists of three vertical posts joined at one end. A pivoting mechanism allows the centremost post to pivot away from the other two, forming a tripod. The two non-pivoting posts have a horizontal cross member on which the canvas is placed. A similar model is fit to hold a blackboard, projection surface, placard etcetera. An easel can be full-height, designed for standing by itself on the floor. Shorter easels can also be designed for use on a table. Easels are typically made from wood, aluminum or steel.
There are two common designs for easels:
There are three common usages for easels:
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