I've been enjoying "Vermeer's Hat" by Timothy Brook. It looks at what he calls the Dawn of the Global World using details in Vermeer's paintings as "back doors." For example, the beaver hat worn by the officer in "Officer and Laughing Girl" leads to a discussion of the fur trade in the New World, with interesting stop-offs on the development of firearms, Native Americans, and climate change in North Europe (who knew that global cooling led to the demise of the European beaver!)
It's by no means a scholarly work - far too many uses of "maybe," "possibly," "could well have been" but it's a fascinating look at trade, exploration, and culture exchange in the 17th century. And all the topics link back to the Netherlands in the time of Vermeer.
Check it out. It's worth a look. I promise you'll learn something.