I, Juan de Pareja

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I, Juan de Pareja
I Juan de Pareja.jpg
Author Elizabeth Borton de Treviño
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
June 1965
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 192 pp

I, Juan de Pareja is a novel by Elizabeth Borton de Treviño that won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1966. The book is based on the Portrait of Juan de Pareja, the real-life portrait that Diego Velázquez made of his slave Juan de Pareja. Written in the first person as by the title character de Pareja, a half-African slave of Velázquez's, who earns his freedom through his own merits, artistic and otherwise.


Juan is born into slavery in Seville, Spain in the early 1600s, and after the death of his mother when he is just five years old he becomes the pageboy of a wealthy Spanish lady, Emilia. At the end of the first chapter, Doña Emilia passes along with Juan's master. Brother Isidro saves Juan from death and brings him to a group of people. They hand him off to a man named Don Carmelo to deliver him to Don Diego Velázquez.

Diego has a wife, Juana de Miranda, and two little girls, Paquita and Ignacia. Juan's main job is to help his master with his work of painting, preparing the colors, washing the brushes, stretching canvas', etc. However, Juan learns to paint as well, but since slaves in Spain are not allowed to practice any of the arts, his master cannot teach him how.

Soon, two apprentices, Cristobal and Alvaro, join the household to learn from Diego. Juan, whose opinions do not differ from his master and his family's, dislikes Cristobal, but finds Alvaro pleasant enough. However, Cristobal is a much better painter than Alvaro.

Some time later, Diego receives a message from the King of Spain, saying that he has been invited to paint His Majesty's portrait. Thus, he and his family are given permanent living quarters in the palace itself, so they move there, along with Juan and the two apprentices. Juan also accompanies Velazquez to Rome for a portrait of Pope Innocent X, and the portraits of many other Italian noblemen. Eventually, Diego frees Juan so he can paint like all free men, and Juan asks for Lolis', a beautiful slave of Juana de Miranda's, hand in holy matrimony. In the end, the whole Velasquez family perishes and Juan escapes to Seville, his birthplace, to paint with one of Diego's former apprentices, Bertolomy Esteban Murillo.[1][1]


In addition to winning the Newbery Medal, the novel received positive reception from the School Library Journal, The Horn Book Magazine, The New York Times, and other outlets.[2]


  1. ^ "I, Juan de Pareja - Chapter 15, In Which I Find Another Home Summary & Analysis". BookRags. 
  2. ^ MacMillan
Preceded by
Shadow of a Bull
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
Up a Road Slowly
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