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Juan de Pareja
[Spanish Baroque Era Painter, ca.1610-1670]
|The son of Moorish indentured servants (in other words, slaves), Juan de Pareja's was apparently left to Diego Velázquez in a will, as property. He acted as a personal assistant to Velázquez, and in the studio he ground pigments and stretched canvases.|
Velázquez would never let the slave even pick up a paintbrush, but the Moor watched and learned in the master's studio, and practiced drawing in secret.
According to legend, on an occasion when Velázquez's patron, the king of Spain, was due to visit, Pareja placed one of his own paintings where it would be seen by him. When the king came across it, Pareja threw himself at the king's feet, told him how he had learned to paint without his master's knowledge, and begged him to intercede on his behalf. The king voiced the opinion that "any man who has this skill cannot be a slave," at which point Velázquez had little option but to grant Pareja his freedom.
Another version of events has Pareja being given the gift of his freedom in return for his friendship and support following the death of Velázquez's wife.
In any case, Juan de Pareja was granted his freedom in 1654 and stayed on in Velázquez's studio, painting openly and quickly becoming an artist of considerable talent.
Juan de Pareja Works Online
Categorized & Annotated
Paintings in Museums and Public Art Galleries Worldwide:
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, RussiaPictures from Image Archives:
Portrait of a Monk, 1651
Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia, Spain (in Spanish)
El arquitecto JosÚ RatÚs
Ringling Museum of Art, Florida
The Flight into Egypt, 1658
Juan de Pareja in the Web Gallery of Art Miscellaneous Sites:
Ciudad de la Pintura (in Spanish)
State Hermitage Museum Unofficial Site
USC Annenberg School for Communication
The Calling of St. Matthew, 1661
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ArtcyclopediaArticles and Reference Sites:
Velazquez's magnificent portrait of Juan de Pareja, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Links to several sites, including the Met's own website.
Encyclopedia Britannica complete article on Juan de Pareja
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Union List of Artist Names (Getty Museum)
Reference sheet with basic information about the artist and pointers to other references.