I’ve always been a self-avowed history nerd. When I was young, the Middle Ages held special fascination for me, particularly the fashion, which my best friend and I tried to recreate on our mothers’ sewing machines. (Told you: history nerd.) However, I always wanted to know things that didn’t seem to be in history books, which was basically anything having to do with women’s lives. Rather than just who they married and who their children grew up to be, I wanted to know what their day-to-day lives were like. What did they discuss with each other? What did they do when they got their periods, for God’s sake? There was a frustrating lack of any information of this sort that was available to me in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

I went off to college hoping to learn more about women in history, and not just the “famous” ones. I was all set to become a history major until I took my first art history class—history with pictures, even better! Although I got a “D” on my first exam (I mean, really, who can keep all of those Egyptian dynasties straight?), I fell in love with the field.

That first semester, I didn’t see Dutch Golden Age artist ’s Man Offering Money to a Young Woman (1631) (sometimes also called The Proposition) in class. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t see any art by women in that class, but I was lucky enough to see the painting in person at the Mauritshuis in The Hague during my first winter break. That’s because, after I graduated from high school in the aforementioned D.C. suburbs, my family packed up and moved to the Netherlands.

When I first saw Man Offering Money to a