"More than any other garment, the flea fur helps us to understand just how different living conditions were in sixteenth-century Europe. People of the period did not bathe very often, and they rarely washed their clothes or bedsheets. The conditions were perfect for infestations of fleas, small bloodsucking insects that live on the bodies of warm-blooded animals like humans. Even the wealthiest people had to endure frequent bites from fleas. One of the ways that they combated the pests was with flea fur."
1) Portrait of a Roman courtesan by Parmigianino, 1530-1535
2) Portrait of Countess Livia da Porto Thiene and her Daughter Porzia by Paolo Veronese (Italian, 1528-1588)