Today's term is "Aesthetic Movement", which occurred during the "Aesthetic Era", which was the end of the 19th century. Although this movement influenced styles of literature, architecture, and all aspects of design, for our purposes we are concerned with the decorative arts here.
The Aesthetic Movement came about as a new and fresh approach to design, rather than a re-hashing of past design motifs such as classical (think Greek and Roman) designs. The emphasis was on nature and natural themes. During that time there was great interest in the study of birds, insects, and plants. Asian motifs were very commonly incorporated as well.
The majolica items below are a great example of Aesthetic design:
These Bristol glass vases also show an appreciation of nature:
Even this cabinet card back reflects the design principals of the Aesthetic movement:
Other things that were popular during the Aesthetic era that are not pictured here: ebonized (blackened) wood; peacock feathers; and blue and white porcelain.