A detail of a ceramic object.

Europeans knew of the existence of China from the Middle Ages onwards. However, it was only in the 17th century, with the expansion of trade between east and west, that Chinese style began to have an impact upon Western art forms.

The copying of Chinese motifs and decoration evolved into the style known as Chinoiserie. It was especially popular as part of the wider Rococo style during the 18th century. Typical Chinoiserie designs included dragons, figures in Oriental dress, exotic birds and flowers, and Chinese landscapes with bridges and pagodas, temples or towers with a number of storeys.