In general, with the rise of the American primacy the study of historical empires, such as Han China and Rome, increased. In the field of comparative studies between empires, not just Rome and China, Shmuel Eisenstadt 's The Political System of Empires (1963) has been described as influential as it pioneered the comparative approach.  The act of comparing the Roman and Han empires is aided by the amount of written evidence from both, as well as other artefactual sources.  In the words of Fritz-Heiner Mutschler and Achim Mittag, "Comparing the Roman and Chinese empires contributes not only to understanding the trajectories along which the two civilizations developed, but also to heightening our awareness of possible analogies between the present and the past, be it with regard to America or China."  Recent work by Ronald A. Edwards shows how such comparisons can be helpful in understanding ancient Chinese and Roman political institutions. 
The painting was purchased by The Rembrandt Society for fl. (€ or about € today),  with the aid of wealthy shipowner Willem van der Vorm, and donated to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam . In 1938, the piece was highlighted in a special exhibition at the Rotterdam museum, along with 450 Dutch masterpieces dating from 1400–1800. A. Feulner wrote in the "Magazine for [the] History of Art", "In the rather isolated area in which the Vermeer picture hung, it was as quiet as in a chapel. The feeling of the consecration overflows on the visitors, although the picture has no ties to ritual or church."