Travelling and Exoticism
Trade and cultural interaction
But whether trade was a means of cultural interaction or a consequence of it nothing expresses quite so well the European appetite for travel as the Grand Tour.
Although trade was often the motivation for travel, sometimes, journeys and the cultural interaction that ensued surpassed the brief or superficial encounters associated with merchants. Trade was often entwined with political interests and/or religion, as was the case with the Portuguese presence in India or in China, which produced some very interesting artistic innovations. In Europe, too, the motivation for different cultural references among patrons gave rise to important commissions and the dissemination of different designs and techniques. But whether trade was a means of cultural interaction or a consequence of it nothing expresses quite so well the European appetite for travel as the Grand Tour. Among young, upper-class gentlemen the Grand Tour was introduced as a right-of-passage from about 1660 and gave the elite the opportunity to make contact directly with the cultural inheritance of classical antiquity and the Renaissance.
Mughal Cabinet

16th–17th Century
Mughal Dynasty
National Museum of Ancient Art
Lisbon, Portugal
Unknown artist
Teak, Indian rosewood and other exotic woods; natural and dyed ivory; lacquer, and brass fittings; feet inlaid and carved
Mughal Emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) was interested in Portuguese Christianity and art. Requesting the authorities in Goa to send a Jesuit mission to his court, it was from this initial contact that a refined artistic style emerged, seen not only in painting, but also in textiles, metalwork, clothing and furniture, such as this cabinet.