Juan de Pareja

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Juan de Pareja
Diego Velázquez - Juan de Pareja (Metropolitan Museum of Art de Nueva York, 1649-50), detalle.jpg
Detail of Velázquez's Portrait of Juan de Pareja
Died1670 (aged 63–64)
EducationDiego Velázquez
Known forPainting

Juan de Pareja (c. 1606 in Antequera – 1670 in Madrid)[1] was a Spanish painter, born into slavery in Antequera, near Málaga, Spain. He is known primarily as a member of the household and workshop of painter Diego Velázquez, who freed him in 1650. His 1661 work The Calling of Saint Matthew (sometimes also referred to as The Vocation of Saint Matthew) is on display at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.


Juan de Pareja was a Spaniard born into slavery in Southern Spain, probably in Antequera in Malaga province around 1610. Little is known on his background although Antonio Palomino describes him as a morisco (convert from Islam), being "of mixed parentage and unusual color."[2]

The first known reference to Juan Pareja as a painter is in a letter addressed to Pedro Galindo, attorney of the city of Seville, written on 12 May 1630, in which Juan de Pareja requests permission to move to Madrid in order to continue his studies together with his brother Jusepe. The authenticity of this document is questioned since within it he claims to be a free man and does not once mention Velázquez.[citation needed]

It is unknown at what time he began serving Diego Velázquez. In 1642 he signed as a witness in a power of attorney for Velázquez in a lawsuit against scribes in the criminal court. He was also a witness in October and December 1647, for two other powers of attorney to manage his assets in Seville granted by Velázquez and his wife Juana Pacheco. He would again sign a similar document in 1653 for Francisca Velázquez, daughter of the painter.[3]

In 1649 he accompanied Velázquez on his second trip to Italy. This is where Velázquez painted his famous painting "Portrait of Juan de Pareja", currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. The painting was exposed in the Pantheon of Rome in March 1650 during the festivities in honor of the Patron of the Virtuosos of the Pantheon, which Velázquez had recently joined. On 23 November, while still in Rome, Velázquez granted him a letter of freedom, which would come into effect after four years on the condition that he did not escape or commit any criminal act in that period. The document of his manumission, discovered by Jennifer Montagu, is held in the Archivio di Stato in Rome.[4]

From then on until his death in Madrid he worked as an independent painter, demonstrating knowledge acquired in Velazquez's workshop, where he likely had wider responsibilities than Palomino suggests, as well as his knowledge of various other Spanish and Italian painters.[citation needed]

In fiction[edit]

  • In 1965, Elizabeth Borton de Treviño published a fictionalized autobiography entitled I, Juan de Pareja, that presents imagined details into the lives of both painters.[5]


Works depicting Pareja[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ William Stirling Maxwell (1848). Annals of the artists of Spain, Volume 2. J. Ollivier.
  2. ^ Palomino, Antonio (1988). El museo pictórico y escala óptica III. El parnaso español pintoresco laureado. Madrid : Aguilar S.A. de Ediciones
  3. ^ Corpus velazqueño, pp. 182-185 y 290.
  4. ^ Burlington Magazine, volume 125, 1983, pp. 683-4
  5. ^ Cole, Thomas B. (17 July 2013). "Juan de Pareja: Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez". JAMA. 310 (3): 236–237. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5211. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 23860969.


External links[edit]