Donatello St John the Baptist c.1386-1466
Jan Gossaert Portrait of Hendrick III c. 1517
In this portrait Hendrick III is represented wearing a fur shawl alongside his velvet hat and elaborately herringboned tunic. Here the rich materials are used for their symbolic value, representing the wealth and importance of the sitter in a dialogue of opulence. Additionally they celebrate the prowess of the painter and his mastery of complex painting techniques in the attempt to create naturalism.
John Currin Rachel in Fur 2002
From the Renaissance we turn to a painting with a more contemporary feel by the American painter John Currin. Here while the fur still speaks of opulence there is a newly glamorous edge, particularly when paired with the Nicole Richiesque dark sunglasses. It is a look that would grace the pages of Vogue.
Meret Oppenheim Object 1936
While here I deviate from clothing a look at fur in art simply wouldn’t be complete without this most notorious surrealist object. Supposedly deriving its appearance from a discussion between Oppenheim Picasso and Dora Maar at a Parisian cafe. Admiring Oppenheim's fur-covered bracelet, Picasso remarked that one could cover anything with fur, to which she replied, "Even this cup and saucer" and with that an art work was born.