This portrait and its pendant, Jacob van Dalen (1570–1644), called Vallensis
) are late works by Mierevelt, dated 1639 and 1640, respectively. The difference in dates is not unusual in Dutch pair portraits, and probably indicates that the commission was executed in the winter months.
The family crests allowed Moes (1897) to identify the sitters; their gravestones in the Oude Kerk, Delft, bear the same crests. Van Dalen (or Dael) was the personal physician of the Dutch Stadholders Prince Maurits (1567–1625) and Prince Frederick Hendrick (1584–1647). Margaretha van Clootwijk, Van Dalen's second wife, was the daughter of Matthijs van Clootwijk, a burgomaster of Geertruidenberg (North Brabant), and Henrica van Drimmelen.
The 1641 inventory of Mierevelt's estate records that "Dr. Valentius" was to receive four large and two small portraits of himself and his wife that remained in the artist's house. The other versions of the present pictures are now unknown, and it is difficult to say whether The Met's panels are the small pendants or one of the larger pairs. The document also suggests that Mierevelt's grandson and heir to his studio, Jacob Willemsz Delff the Younger (1619–1661), painted the costumes in these pictures.
[2017; adapted from Liedtke 2007]