Encompassing the Globe: In the 16th Century, Portugal Was the First European Nation to Build an Extensive Commercial Global Network of Trading Partners. Contact with So Many Far-Flung Regions Led to the Creation of Highly Original Works of Art

USA TODAY, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Encompassing the Globe: In the 16th Century, Portugal Was the First European Nation to Build an Extensive Commercial Global Network of Trading Partners. Contact with So Many Far-Flung Regions Led to the Creation of Highly Original Works of Art


DURING THE 16th century, Portuguese sailors braved international waters to create a global trading network that extended from Europe to Brazil, Africa, the Persian Gulf, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China, and Japan. This naval empire connected civilizations from all known continents, transforming the face of commerce and initiating unprecedented cultural exchange.

"Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries" explores the artistic achievements that flourished when these sailors exposed new creative techniques and imagery to the world as they transported goods from port to port. The exhibition presents approximately 250 objects produced by the cultures touched by Portugal's early trade routes.

Portugal was the first European nation to build such an extensive commercial empire. Contact with so many far-flung regions, which virtually had been unknown to Europeans, led to the creation of highly original works of art, some intended for export and others for domestic enjoyment. Initially displayed in princely "cabinets of wonder"--predecessors of the modern museum--and other royal and aristocratic collections, and now scattered in museums and private collections throughout the world, the paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, maps, early books, and other objects assembled in the exhibition provide a rich image of a "new world" during its formation. …

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Encompassing the Globe: In the 16th Century, Portugal Was the First European Nation to Build an Extensive Commercial Global Network of Trading Partners. Contact with So Many Far-Flung Regions Led to the Creation of Highly Original Works of Art
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