Photo of the Mauritshuis by Jackie Kever used under a Creative Commons license.
Mariët Westermann, A Worldly Art: The Dutch Republic, 1585-1718 (Yale University Press, 2005).
A survey of Dutch art from the height of the Netherlands’ power and glory. There are passing nods to architecture, prints and sculpture, but the focus here is Dutch painting. This is an excellent introduction to the period, with a helpful discussion of different genres, themes and other aspects of Dutch painting, and the book is beautifully illustrated. Visitors to the Rijksmuseum and Mauritshuis will see many works discussed by Westermann, and will find that her explanations compare well with the museums’ audio guides.
Here is Westermann’s bio at NYU. She also wrote the book on Rembrandt. Google Books lets you take a look. Beautiful Lofty Things calls it lively and interesting. Ben used it as a source. Mae saw the food. Laura recommends it. I believe it was a New York Times Notable Book, but I can’t find that on the New York Times. After you’ve read it, plan your trip to the Rijksmuseum.