The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has just announced the upcoming exhibition Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter running from 3 April – 16 July 2023.
Pareja (c. 1608-1670) was an enslaved painter who worked in Diego Velázquez’s studio for over twenty years, before finally being granted freedom by his master in 1654. Best known for his portrait by Velázquez (illustrated above), this exhibition seeks to illuminate Pareja as an artist in his own right and to draw attention to the preponderance of enslaved artistic labour in seventeenth century Iberia. As such, the present show includes many of Pareja’s paintings executed in Madrid as a free man, alongside depictions of Black and Morisco Spaniards by other leading painters such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Francisco de Zurbarán.
Sotheby’s sold, on 20 October 2022, a painting by Senegalese artist Ida N’Diaye, Juan de Pareja agressé par les chiens (1982) for £176,400 against a £50,000 - £70,000 estimate. This picture offers an updated interpretation of the famous Velázquez portrait first through its expressive handling, but second, and more importantly, by acknowledging Pareja’s disenfranchised status via the inclusion of attacking dogs, so synonymous with the institution of slavery.