Admiration—the aesthetic sense of wonder with which the beholder gazes upon the work of art—becomes here a mental response in which sensual delight is strenuously linked with an appreciation of the market value of the goods and the urge to acquire. In the mid-fifteenth century the social rise of the merchant brought with it an aesthetic of expenditure—a visual mode which gave delight through the intrinsic desirability of endlessly varied and exquisitely manufactured belongings, available for purchase. The eye of the onlooker responded with pleasurable longing to the fantasty of possession, which was independent of any real possibility of owning such wonders themselves.

Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance