I, Juan de Pareja

by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino

Paperback, 2008



Local notes

PB Tre (2) (one to be cover)


Square Fish (2008), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 192 pages


Juan de Pareja, the slave who prepares the paints and canvases of the artist Velázquez, describes his work with his master and the climate of Spanish court life.


Original publication date


Physical description

192 p.; 7.6 inches


0312380054 / 9780312380052



User reviews

LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This is enjoyable biography of a noble and compassionate man, a slave who overcame the obstacles in his life to become a great painter. Unfortunately, it's not true. Well, I should say it's based on reality, but like the author herself says, "very little, for certain is known about [Juan de Pareja]." What is known is that Sr. Pareja was a slave, and was inherited by the great Spanish artist Diego Velázquez. We also know that Sr. Pareja became a painter, despite the fact that a slave was forbidden to do so under Spanish law. Ms. Trevino creatively fills in the gaps giving us a tale of what it might be like to be the slave of a great artist. While it isn't true history, it's good reading. You might as well check it out since she's gone to all the trouble to write it.
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LibraryThing member rdg301library
The slave Juan de Pareja was the subject of a 1650 painting (below) by his master, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (who later freed him and made him his assistant). This book is based on their lives - which have little documentation. This makes them great subjects for historical fiction.

Elizabeth Borton de Treviño studied Spanish and writing at Stanford, and later lived in Mexico. In her afterword, she alludes to the racial tension of the 1960s and states that she hopes it will appeal "to young people of both white and Negro races because the story...foreshadows, in the lifetime of the two men, what we hope to achieve a millionfold today. Those two, who began in youth as master and slave, continued as companions in their maturity and ended as equals and friends." I have to wonder if this statement contributed to the book receiving the 1966 Newbery Medal.… (more)
LibraryThing member justinscott66
"I, Juan de Pareja" tells the story of a relationship between the 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez and his black slave, Juan de Pareja. Juan the story about his life as apprentice with nuance, intelligence and colorful detail. This historical fiction book is rich with 17th century moods, travel and art descriptions. Beyond the strength of Juan's character, the supporting characters (nobles, Diego Velazquez, family, the king and Ruebens) really make this book come to life.… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
Juan de Pareja was a real-life slave of Diego Velazquez, the famous Spanish painter of the 17th century. At that time, it was illegal for slaves to paint. Secretly, however, Juan watches Velazquez and experiments with his techniques, painting. Juan is able, in time, to become free and to marry and to set his wife free as well.Slavery, freedom, truth in art---these are the great themes of this book.“I thought Art should be Beauty,” he (an apprentice to Velazquez) muttered.“No, Cristobal,” (replied Velazquez) “Art should be Truth; and Truth, unadorned, unsentimentalized, is Beauty….I would rather paint exactly what I see, even if it is ugly, perfectly, than indifferently paint something superficially lovely.”… (more)
LibraryThing member goodnightmoon
An interesting historical read, detailing a period of history and a geography unknown to me. The story covers many years and is focused on events rather than feelings, lessening its emotional impact (no pain and suffering, no excitement, no real action).

However, I really admired the author's style of historical fiction, which stands in contrast to more modern styles that pour on the period detail, thick and inescapable. This book rarely mentions the dress or the way the homes are decorated, and the speech and actions are so simple that they could happen in any time period. For helping readers connect with history, perhaps there isn't a better style.… (more)
LibraryThing member klburnside
i think i would have liked this book a lot more if i'd read it as a historical fiction novel, but i didn't realize a lot of it was based on factual events until i finished the book.

mostly i was just bored as i read it, i'm not sure why.

LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Juan tells the story of being a slave to the artist Diego Velázquez and of developing his own artistic talent. The reader gets to see into the life of the famous painter but also into the life of a slave in 17th century Spain.
LibraryThing member Mrs_McGreevy
Juan de Pareja was born a slave in 17th century Spain. When his mistress died, he was sent with the rest of her goods to her nephew, the painter Diego Velasquez. Despite their differences in station, the two men become friends, and eventually Juan becomes an artist in his own right, despite it being illegal to teach a slave any of the arts. Very interesting story, with a lot of detail about life in Spain and Italy during that time.… (more)
LibraryThing member stgayde
I, Juan de Pareja is a non fiction story, following Juan, an African American man born into slavery in Spain. He is orphaned at a young age and not long after his master and mistress fall to the plague. Juan is also affected, but miraculously survives. He is then sent to serve under his late mistress' nephew, Diego Rodriguez, a renowned painter. Diego treats Juan very well and has no patience for those that don't. Thus, Juan's new job is to work along side Diego as a painter's assistant. Along the way, Juan learns to paint as well despite the fact that this was forbidden under Spanish law. The story paints a wonderful picture of 17th century life using a number of strong, historically relevant supporting characters.… (more)






(98 ratings; 3.8)
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