The weakening of the Ming dynasty in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries paves the way for the Manchu takeover of China in the mid-seventeenth. As the Qing dynasty, the Manchus rule China, large parts of Central Asia, and other neighboring regions until the late nineteenth century. China is one of the wealthier and more populous nations in the world during this period, largely due to efficient production and trade in tea and luxury goods such as silk and porcelain.
The arts flourish despite a tendency toward conservative thought. Porcelains are produced in record numbers for export and use at home. New palettes such as the well-known famille verte and famille rose are added to an already impressive repertory of shapes and glazes. Orthodox painters preserve and reinterpret earlier traditions, while “Individualist” masters develop new sensibilities with regard to themes and techniques. The widespread export of Chinese goods has a profound effect on the visual arts of much of Europe, influencing architecture, textiles, and ceramics, and creating a taste for new materials such as lacquer.