The period from 1520 to 1560 was one of political realism. The rivalry of great nation-states such as England, France and Spain and the cynicism that governed their political moves led to violent acts such as the sack of Rome in 1527. The reformation was reshaping Europe's religious values, causing fear and distrust within the culture. Thus, the art was artificial rather than derived from nature.
An economic revolution was reshaping the daily lives of the people of Europe. A monetary system replaced the old concept of barter, and the increasing supply of gold and silver from the New World raised prices and caused inflation.