This portrait and its pendant, Margaretha van Clootwijk (born about 1580/81, died 1662), Wife of Jacob van Dalen
) are late works by Mierevelt, dated 1640 and 1639, 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. Jacob van Dalen (or Dael), known professionally by the Latinized form of his name, Vallensis, was born in Speyer, Germany. His father was a preacher, Theodorus van Dale, and his mother was Maria van Wassenaer Hanecops. He studied medicine at the University of Leiden from 1589 to 1593, then moved to Delft and became the personal physician of the Stadholders Prince Maurits (1567–1625) and Prince Frederick Hendrick (1584–1647) in the neighboring city of The Hague. The same eminent doctor appears in a group portrait of 1617, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Willem van der Meer
(Oude- en Nicuwe Gasthuis, Delft), which bears a Latin inscription to the effect that Mierevelt drew the composition and his son Pieter carried out the painting.
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]