1520 "Woman Playing a Lute"
by Bartolommeo Veneto
(Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan)
1525 "Portrait of a Lady"
by Bernardino Luini
(National Gallery of Art, Washington)
1518 "Portrait of Dona Isabel de Requesens"
(Museum of the Louvre)
1536 "Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovere"
(Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)
1535 "Portrait Of A Lady"
by Moretto da Brescia
(Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum)
1551 "Countess Livia da Porto Thiene"
by Paolo Caliari
(Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum)
1552-53 "Isotta Brembati" (detail)
by Giovanni Batista Moroni
(Bergamo, Moroni Collection)
1557 "Bianca Ponzoni Anguissola"
by Sofonisba Anguissola
(Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
1560 "Portrait of a Woman"
by Francesco Beccaruzzi
1560s "Family Portrait (detail)"
by Giovanni Antonio Fasolo
(San Francisco, Fine Arts Museum)
1560s "Portrait of Angelica Agliardi De Nicolinis"
by Giovanni Battista Moroni
(Chantilly, Musee Condé)
1560s "Paola Gualdo And Daughters"
by Giovanni Antonio Fasolo
(Dresden, Vicenza, Museo Civico)
1580 "Portrait of a Noblewoman"
by Lavinia Fontanai
pre 1567 "Portrait of a Lady"
by Domenico Riccio
(Vicenza, Pinacoteca Palazzo Thiene)
1581-84 "Portrait of a Lady in White"
by Domenico Robusti
1550, Italian; marten head; enameled gold, rubies, garnets, pearls
(The Walters Art Museum)
Below are pictures of a few extant zibie heads, some period etchings of zibie heads and feet, and portraits featuring zibies (both decorated and plain). I have included a couple from countries other than Italy to show how widespread the fashion became. I hope to include more as I find them. (Please let me know if you know where some are!) For more information on zibellini, I highly recommend "Medieval Clothing and Textiles 2," which has an absolutely excellent article about zibellini by Tawny Sherrill.
This is the little informational blurb from my Zibellini flyer:
"What is a zibellino? Zibellini (pl.) were full-body pelts worn as a fashion accessory by stylish ladies in the 1500s, most commonly in Northern Italy. They used sable or marten pelts most often, but ermine, mink, and even lynx were also used. Zibellini frequently had gold or silver heads and feet, and there is also mention of artisans using jet or crystal instead of metal. Regardless of the material used, they were usually encrusted with jewels, gilding, and sometimes enamelwork. In our day, zibellini are sometimes referred to as "flea furs" on the mistaken assumption that ladies wore these furs to attract the fleas away from themselves and onto the furs. This is a myth: why would a flea want to leave a nice, warm, food-filled body for an empty pelt? Besides, if you were a rich lady, would you want to advertise your personal cleanliness issues to the masses? No, zibellini were worn for high fashion, not personal hygiene!
The first mention I can find of a zibellino is from a 1467 inventory of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It describes “a marten for putting around the neck, the head and feet of gold with ruby eyes, with diamonds on the muzzle and paws.” The first portrait I know of that features a zibellino is the 1518 Portrait of Dona Isabel de Requesens, vice-reine of Naples. She wears her unadorned zibellino draped over one shoulder. What I believe to be the earliest portrait depicting a decorated zibellino is the 1536-37 Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovere. Extant portraiture shows a wide range of upperclass & wealthy women wearing their zibellini proudly, including Queen Elizabeth! By the mid 1500s, zibellini had become so popular that sumptuary laws concerning them were being passed all over Italy. At first they tried to control how they were decorated: “In order to avoid any superfluous costs and to get used to in some ornaments some honest and decent/proper, it is ordained and ordered that regarding zibellini and fans, they cannot make heads, or handles, or other ornaments in gold, silver, pearls, or jewels but it is tolerated that they can be attached with a gold chain if the said chain does not exceed between fifteen and twenty scudi and not more.” (March, 1545; Bologna, Italy) Obviously that wasn’t very successful as the original laws were often amended to be more permissive. The law shown above was amended as follows: “…it is encouraged that the gentlewomen content themselves with the first ordinance rather than use this new license.” (October, 1545; Bologna, Italy)"
For a zibie of your very own, click here!
1550s; Carved rock crystal marten head (zibellini)
Thyssen Collection, Zuric
1500s; Marten head with gold ears and glass eyes
London Museum and Gallery
1562; Two etching prints showing two muzzles & one fox paw each; by Erasmus Hornick (Flemish)
1522s "Portrait of Lucina Bremabati"
by Lorenzo Lotto
1540s "Camilla Gonzaga with Her Three Sons"
(Museo del Prado Madrid, Spain)
1570-75 (English) "Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex"
1583 "Portrait of the Gozzadini Family"
by Lavinia Fontana
Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna
1606 "Isabel de Valois"
by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz
Museo del Prado