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“Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez

Retrato de Juan Pareja, by Diego Velázquez

“Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez

The Portrait of Juan by Diego Velázquez is a portrait of  Velázquez’s assistant Juan de Pareja, who was enslaved and owned by Velázquez at the time the painting was completed. Velázquez painted this portrait in Rome, while was travelling in Italy. It is the earliest known portrait of a Spanish man of African descent.

Diego Velázquez as the court painter to King Philip IV of Spain was sent to Rome to purchase works of art for the King. Velázquez brought with him Juan de Pareja, who served as an assistant and who was of Moorish descent. De Pareja (1606 – 1670 ) was born into slavery in Spain, but he became an artist in his own right, and he was freed in 1650. His 1661 work, The Calling of Saint Matthew, is on display at the Museo del Prado.

Diego Velázquez was the leading artist in the Spanish court of King Philip IV, and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age. He was a unique artist of the contemporary Baroque period. In the early nineteenth century, Velázquez’s artwork became a model for the realist and impressionist painters. More recently modern artists, including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Francis Bacon, have paid tribute to Velázquez by recreating several of his most famous works.

Portrait of Juan de Pareja

  • Title:                            Portrait of Juan de Pareja
  • Artist:                          Diego Velázquez
  • Date:                            1650
  • Medium:                     Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:              81.3 × 69.9 cm (2.6 × 2.2 ft)
  • Museum:                     Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET, New York, USA

Diego Velázquez

  • Name:                  Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez
  • Born:                    1599 – Seville, Spain
  • Died:                    1660 (aged 61) – Madrid, Spain
  • Nationality:        Spanish
  • Movement:         Baroque
  • Notable works:


“Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.” Queen Victoria



Photo Credits: 1) Diego Velázquez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons