Nicolaes van der Meer and Cornelia Vooght were a prominent Haarlem couple. Van der Meer (c. 1574-1637) was a brewer, sheriff, burgomaster on more than one occasion and an officer of the civic guard. In his post of captain he was also painted by Frans Hals in the civic guard portrait of 1616. The couple were portrayed in two separate paintings, which belong together. The wall in one portrait appears to continue through into the other. Traditionally the portrait of the man hangs on the left and that of the woman on the right. In the course of his long career Frans Hals painted many of these pendant portraits of men and women.
There is something strange going on with these two portraits. X-radiographs have revealed that the faces of Nicolaes and Cornelia have been painted over the top of other portraits. We do not know why this was done. Perhaps the sitters were not satisfied or became dissatisfied with their portraits; perhaps later owners (the portraits remained in the family for a long time) had the portraits altered. The coats of arms in the two paintings are also later additions, probably nineteenth century.
The Prussian blue pigment used in the coats of arms was not in general use until after 1720, and the arms are not in evidence on a drawing after the portrait of Cornelia Vooght made by Johan van der Sprang in 1762.