The discovery of sea routes that directly connected Europe to the vast maritime world of Asia enabled the creation of a global trading community. For the first time, Europeans had direct access to a wealth of luxurious commodities such as lustrous Chinese porcelain, vivid Indian textiles, and elegant Japanese lacquer.

At cosmopolitan ports in Asia, artists responded to this new age of artistic and cultural exchange and created hybrid works of art using regional techniques. These new wares were exported around the world creating the first globally recognized styles.

Inversely, the influx of exotic wares adapted to suit the aristocracy of Europe inspired imitation and innovation by European artists who adapted oriental motifs for local demand and export to Asia.