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Juan de Pareja

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Juan de Pareja
Bornc. 1606
Antequera, Spain
Died1670 (aged 63–64)
Madrid, Spain
EducationDiego Velázquez
Known forPainting

Juan de Pareja (c. 1606c. 1670) was a Spanish painter of multiracial descent. Born in Antequera, he is best known as a member of the household and workshop of painter Diego Velázquez, who enslaved Pareja until 1654. Pareja's 1661 painting The Calling of Saint Matthew (also known to as The Vocation of Saint Matthew) is currently on display at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.[1]


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 de 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 exhibited 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]


Works depicting Pareja[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maxwell, William Stirling (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, 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.
  6. ^ Rodríguez Rebollo, Ángel. "Juan de Pareja | Real Academia de la Historia". dbe.rah.es (in Spanish). Real Academia de la Historia. Retrieved 5 April 2023. Sobre este último existe cierta controversia, pues parece que ni siquiera es del todo clara la identificación del retratado; en cualquier caso, de ser cierta, habría que fechar el cuadro entre 1651 y 1653, convirtiéndose así en la obra más temprana de Pareja.
  7. ^ "La vocación de San Mateo - Colección - Museo Nacional del Prado". www.museodelprado.es. Retrieved 5 April 2023. Lo vemos a la izquierda, mirando orgulloso al espectador y portando en su mano derecha un papel con su firma.


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