The Childhood of Sebastián Gómez

Various artists/makers

Not on view

This print illustrates a chapter in Eugénie Foa's 1856 book on the childhoods of famous painters and musicians, a popular subject in the mid-nineteenth century. According to the narrative, upon discovering that his enslaved studio assistant, Sebastián Gómez, had skillfully executed and transformed paintings overnight, the Spanish seventeenth-century painter Murillo agrees to grant him whatever he most desires as recompense. As the caption indicates, Gómez asked for the freedom of his father, which Murillo conceded, along with that of the promising young artist himself. Recent scholarship suggests that while Gómez was apprenticed to Murillo, he was neither of African descent, nor enslaved; rather, it seems the biography of Juan de Pareja, the enslaved assistant whom Velázquez liberated, was grafted onto him.

The Childhood of Sebastián Gómez, Auguste Hadamard (French, Metz 1823–1886 Paris), Hand-colored lithograph with printed tone

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