Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter

April 3rd - July 16th, 2023
Free with Museum admission

This exhibition offers an unprecedented look at the life and artistic achievements of seventeenth-century Afro-Hispanic painter Juan de Pareja (ca. 1608–1670). Largely known today as the subject of The Met’s iconic portrait by Diego Velázquez, Pareja—who was born in Antequera, Spain—was enslaved in Velázquez’s studio for over two decades before becoming an artist in his own right. This presentation is the first to tell his story and examine the ways in which enslaved artisanal labor and a multiracial society are inextricably linked with the art and material culture of Spain’s “Golden Age.”

Representations of Spain’s Black and Morisco populations in works by Francisco de Zurbarán, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and Velázquez join works that chart the ubiquity of enslaved labor across media, from sculpture to silver. The Met’s portrait, executed by Velázquez in Rome in 1650, is contextualized by his other portraits from this period and the original document whereby Pareja was freed upon return to Madrid. The exhibition culminates in the first gathering of Pareja’s rarely seen paintings, some of enormous scale, which engage with the canons of Western art while reverberating throughout the African diaspora.

Harlem Renaissance collector and scholar Arturo Schomburg was vital to the recovery of Pareja’s work and serves as a thread connecting seventeenth-century Spain with twentieth-century New York, providing a lens through which to view the multiple histories that have been written about Pareja.

Accompanied by a publication.

The exhibition is made possible by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.

Major support is provided by Denise Sobel.

Additional funding is provided by Laura and John Arnold, Fundación María Cristina Masaveu Peterson, Ann M. Spruill and Daniel H. Cantwell, and The Met’s Fund for Diverse Art Histories.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by Denise Sobel.

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Juan de Pareja (ca. 1608–1670), Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez), Oil on canvas
Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, Seville 1599–1660 Madrid)
The Flight into Egypt, Juan de Pareja, Oil on canvas
Juan de Pareja (Spanish, Antequera 1606–1670 Madrid)
The Calling of Saint Matthew, Juan de Pareja, Oil on canvas
Juan de Pareja (Spanish, Antequera 1606–1670 Madrid)
View of Seville, Unknown Artist, Oil on canvas
Unknown Artist
ca. 1660
Three Boys, Bartolomé Estebán Murillo, Oil on canvas
Bartolomé Estebán Murillo (Spanish, Seville 1617–1682 Seville)
ca. 1670
Juan de Pareja (Spanish, ca. 1608–1670). The Calling of Saint Matthew, 1661. Oil on canvas, 88 1/2 in. x 10 ft. 8 in. (225 x 325 cm). Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P001041). Photo: © Photographic Archive Museo Nacional del Prado

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April 3rd - July 16th, 2023
Free with Museum admission