Here’s what excites me…books about the lives of artists. This little gem (though not that well written or badly either) shared some of the life of Spain’s best known artist, Diego Valázquez.
It’s about Juan de Parja who was a slave/servant to Valázquez’s aunt. When she passed away, since a slave was known as property, she had made plans for him to live and work for Valásquez.
This little book talks about the life he led as worker for Valázquez, which was a pretty good one. He was treated very well by this family. He mixed paints, built and prepared canvases and watched him work for years. The feeling to paint grew in Juan’s soul so much that he had to steal paints from his master to paint on the sly. It was illegal for a slave to paint as it was one of the arts and they weren’t allowed to indulge in Spain at this time.
He became a great artist in his own right when he was given his freedom, not long before Valázquez died.