. This once enslaved 17th century artist was misunderstood for centuries. A new exhibition rewrites his story « JO LEE MAGAZINE

CNN – In 1650, the city of Rome was abuzz. The Spanish artist Diego Velázquez had just exhibited a portrait in the Pantheon’s domed interior. His subject: Juan de Pareja, an Andalusian man who was enslaved and serving as Velázquez’s studio assistant. Not only was a formal portrait of a man of African heritage exceedingly rare in Western art at the time, but the painting’s likeness was so stunning that an early biographer of Velázquez wrote the artist sent Pareja around Rome, painting in hand, to show it off to his acquaintances. It was said they could not tell who appeared more real.

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