In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Europe and the Globe, 1350–1700

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews

Renaissance and Reformation Europe and the Globe, 1350–1700
Julie Berger Hochstrasser, Marsely Kehoe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 September 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0318


Artistic exchanges across geographical and cultural distances have registered in the arts from time immemorial, but the current focus on contemporary globalization has stimulated vigorous scholarly attention to processes of interculturation. Established art historical categories, typically defined by regional or national boundaries, are ill-suited to apprehending questions of intercultural exchange; art historians are interrogating patterns of disciplinary practice, challenging Eurocentric assumptions, and seeking better strategies for analyzing these dynamic interactions. This article targets works that specifically address aspects of artistic exchange between Europe and other parts of the world between 1350 and 1700, along with artistic legacies of that early interaction. By definition, all entries address multiple cultures—hence, the challenge of structuring such a bibliography—but they are organized insofar as possible by area of geographic emphasis. An especially promising direction of scholarship in this subject decenters Europe, despite following European networks or documentation, like Um 2017 (cited under Asia) and Park 2020 (cited under Spain). And given the rapidly burgeoning scholarship in this area, this offering is a point of departure for a marvelous and ongoing voyage of discovery. So, to begin: during the late Middle Ages some Europeans followed the Silk Road overland across Eurasia, but the Ottoman blockade of these land routes in 1453 spurred the European search for a sea route to the Indies, launching a European “age of exploration” that lasted from the late 15th through the 17th centuries. The Portuguese worked their way down the African coast and eventually established coastal trading posts from East Africa to Japan. The Spanish sailed west to the New World, joining with Portugal after 1580 to create an Iberian force that dominated early global exploration. The revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish rule prompted the Dutch to find their own way to the Spice Islands, resulting in their rise to global primacy in the 17th century. France and the German lands were less keenly focused overseas, but the English competed worldwide until winning global preeminence in the 18th century. Throughout all these cultural interactions, art objects and materials were among the cargo transported between Europe and the far corners of the world. Travelers, some professional artists among them, recorded their impressions; printmaking and publishing facilitated broad circulation of ideas and imagery. Architecture left enduring evidence of exchange in far-flung places. Ceramics and textiles were sought-after commodities along with the coveted spices, and curiosity collections disseminated cultural artifacts among Europe’s royalty and intelligentsia as well as in sophisticated courts in Persia (Iran), India, China, and Japan. Cross-fertilization in the arts took many forms, and the literature that treats it is voluminous and steadily expanding.

General Overviews

Museum websites are useful sources on particular works and artists; one of the best and most accessible online English-language resources for information on world art with all its exchange and cross-fertilization is the Heilbrunn Tmeline of Art History sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oxford Art Online is another comprehensive online resource for those with access. The emerging focus throughout the discipline of art history on less Eurocentric and more global scope has been expressed in exhibitions, studies, conferences, and other projects. The sprawling exhibit Circa 1492 (Levenson 1991, cited under Europe) at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, was one such milestone that undertook to recast the landscape of art historical theory and purview; interventions such as Farago 1995 and Jardine 1996 (both cited under Europe) press further for these reforms to better situate Europe within its global context. Onians 2004 reconceptualizes the discipline yet more profoundly and comprehensively with the author’s Atlas of World Art, while Kaufmann 2004 addresses the methodological challenges in moving Toward a Geography of Art. Gruzinski 2004 comments briefly on art within a larger “history of a globalization,” though the author’s previous studies focus more on visual culture (see Gruzinski 1992, Gruzinski 1993, Gruzinski 2001, all cited under Mexico), making seminal contributions to the sophisticated engagement with colonial issues in Latin American scholarship (see Latin America). Anderson 2009 massively documents proceeds from another landmark in this development: Crossing Cultures, the 2009 Melbourne conference of the global Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art, the first time it convened south of the equator. The rising tide of scholarship tackling these topics and issues engaged with global interconnections fills this article; Leibsohn 2012 represents one attempt to theorize Seeing across Cultures in the Early Modern World, while Peck 2013 exemplifies art history’s broadened parameters of both geography and media in the Metropolitan’s exhibition and catalogue Interwoven Globe on the textile trade. Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn (Casid and D’Souza 2014) results from a Clark Institute conference deliberately wrestling with the methodological concerns of art history—a salutary evolution, but one clearly still in progress. From the field of history, The Global Lives of Things (Gerritsen and Riello 2015) unites both the global and the material turns in historical studies to offer a collection of essays, including some artworks among the objects of the Early Modern period considered with regard to global knowledge, global connections, and global consumption.

  • Anderson, Jaynie, ed. Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence; Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference in the History of Art (Comité international de l’art, CIHA), University of Melbourne, 13–18 January 2008. Carleton, Australia: Miegunyuh, 2009.

    Includes 224 papers on 1,106 pages. Topic titles include Migration and Indigeneity: What Happens When Cultures Meet?; Creating Perspectives on Global Art History; Art Histories in an Interconnected World: Synergies and New Directions; The Idea of World Art History; Hybrid Renaissances in Europe and Beyond; Cultural and Artistic Exchange in the Making of the Modern World, 1500–1900; The Sacred Across Cultures; Materiality Across Cultures; Art and Migration; and more.

  • Casid, Jill H., and Aruna D’Souza, eds. Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2014.

    With thirteen essays in three parts, this methodological analysis uses case studies to examine the discipline of art history as affected by recent concern with globalization. Many essays range post-1700, but the anthology touches on all regions of the globe and most art historical time periods, making this collection of essays a fairly representative update on globally oriented methodologies across the discipline.

  • Gerritsen, Anne, and Giorgio Riello, eds. The Global Lives of Things: The Material Culture of Connections in the Early Modern World. London: Routledge, 2015.

    Essays at the intersection of global history and material culture in what the editors (both historians) call the “first global age.” Including works of art along with commodities and precious materials among its case studies, the anthology does not focus on European relations, but they come into play in these explorations of material exchange among Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Australia.

  • Gruzinski, Serge. Les quatre parties du monde: Histoire d’une mondialisation. Paris: Éditions de la Martinière, 2004.

    While this is, as the title indicates, a more comprehensive history of globalization, chapter 12, “La piste des objets” (pp. 281–308), addresses objects collected from abroad, and chapter 13, “Les perroquets d’Anvers: Art metis et art globalisé” (pp. 309–338), is explicitly devoted to art. This book is illustrated, but beyond the chapters mentioned, images are not directly discussed. Paperback edition (Paris: Éditions de la Martinière, 2006) does not include the illustrations.

  • Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta. Toward a Geography of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

    Emphasizes the pitfalls of circumscribing art historical study within the traditional regional categories, given the complexities of the global circulation of ideas and motifs. Reviews historiography of this concept of Kunstgeographie, engaging other concepts at the forefront of disciplinary discussion such as center and periphery, artistic diffusion, transculturation and mestizaje. Ends with a range of case studies that illustrate intercultural exchange.

  • Leibsohn, Dana. Seeing across Cultures in the Early Modern World. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2012.

    Leibsohn opens this compilation of essays by discussing “geographies of sight.” Subsequent parts consider perspective and mimesis, blindness and memory, colonial visualities, and seeing across time. However, only chapter 1 (“Perspective and Its Discontents”), chapter 3 (“Court of the Great Mogor”), and chapter 7 (“Voicing Moctezuma II’s Image”) are most pertinent to art. Other chapters provide interesting comparisons of the ways that the legacy of global interaction has endured.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.

    Presents the museum’s collection via “a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of global art history.” Won the 2005 MUSE Award for Education and Interpretation from the American Association of Museums Media and Technology Committee as well as Best Research Site from Museums and the Web.

  • Onians, John. Atlas of World Art. London: Laurence King, 2004.

    This pioneering project offers a template for an egalitarian presentation of artistic activity. Mapped by nontraditional designations of space (continents and subregions from the Americas eastward) and time (by rise of various activities), it restructures the study of art within a framework where specialists collaborate to reconceive their expertise in relation to others. Period in question spans the sections on “Art, Religion and the Ruler” (600–1500) and “Art, Exploitation and Display” (1500–1800).

  • Oxford Art Online.

    Formerly the Grove Dictionary of Art and then Grove Art Online. For those with access, this resource is “the foremost scholarly art encyclopedia, covering both Western and non-Western art,” with forty-five thousand signed articles on every aspect of the visual arts, more than six thousand searchable images, and forty thousand editorially selected links to museums and galleries. Content updated three times per year.

  • Peck, Amelia, ed. Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800. Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013.

    This exhibition catalogue begins its discussion with trade textiles at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It goes on to discuss how the textiles of each geographic area can be understood in context as well as their significance in trade. Contributions authored by Guy, Phipps, Pacheco Ferreira, Denney, Sardar, Watt, and Peck create a comprehensive understanding of the far-reaching significance of the global trade in textiles.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.