Juan de Pareja was born into a slave family. His mother died when he was just five years old. The only thing his mother left was her gold earrings. From that day on Mistress, Dona Emilia de Silva y Rodriguez, took him as her pageboy. But soon after Mistress taught Juanico his letters and how to write. Juanico developed beautiful handwriting, which at first made Mistress envy him until she noticed that he could now write her letters. But after a while Master became ill and got worst everyday until he died. The house had now been very quiet and sad Mistress then dictated a letter to Juanico for her nephew. The letter explained that Master had died and that she might go and visit his nephew soon. But she never realized this because Mistress died soon after due to the plague. After this Juanico was the only survivor from that house.
But he also got very sick after Mistress died. Then one day a Brother from the church named Isidro came to the house one day fixed a bed for Juanico and made him broth. He also took the house pet that was a dog named Toto. Brother Isidro then informed Juanico that he had been inherited to Don Diego, Mistress' nephew. The next day Brother Isidro pleaded the magistrate to not note Juanico's name so he could prepare him for his journey at the convent. Luckly he told brother Isidro he wouldn't note him down until he was ready. Juan stayed in the convent for about six days, during this time he took care of the children in the convent and helped out with other things. Then the day came to go to the house of the magistrate. When they got there Juan waited outside until Brother Isidro came out and gave Juanico the bad news that he may never see him again and that he will have to stay there and receive orders.
When night came Juan was assigned to a bed for him with straw and used one of the horse's blanket. That same night Juanico was awakened by a man named Carmelo ; he would be the muleteer who would lead him to Madrid with Dona Emilia's nephew, Don Diego. Carmelo insisted to address him as "Don Carmelo ,"ÃÂ he was a gypsy who loved to stop at gypsy camps and dance . Don Carmelo told Juanico , one day , that food wouldn't come to him so he had to steal it . Juan didn't like the idea but this was the only way he could survive, soon he started asking for money and pleading for food . But then one day Juan was offered a little job which included: a place to sleep and food. The deal was made with a baker part of the deal was that at the end of forty days he would receive a coat, and so he did. At the end of those forty days Juan began his journey once more to Madrid but now it wasn't with Carmelo , it was with a man whom he walked close by . But this didn't last that long because Carmelo came back and beated him up. But when he woke up he didn't know where he was at and found himself hiding between boxes. Then a man came to him and introduced himself; it was his new Master Don Diego de Silva y Rodriguez, a painter with great talent. His room was cozy and near the kitchen . he ate with the cook and soon learned his duties. These duties included: grinding colors, cleaning the paint brushes, stretching canvas to the frame. At fist Juan had trouble stretching the canvas and putting it to a frame , but as soon as he saw his Master do it he immediately learned. Then one day Juanico told his Master that he wanted to learn how to paint but his Master told him he couldn't teach him . Juanico didn't understand until the day Mistress told him that it was a law that slaves couldn't practice any kind of art. But soon two apprentices joined Master; they had two rooms built for them .
Then one day Master received a note from the king telling him he wanted him to paint his portrait . Don Diego moved into a studio in the palace and some days after the king showed up for his portrait . First he sketched him and even in the sketches he could see the king's loneliness and desire for a friend. Then some days after the king came into the studio and announced that Rubens, a famous painter from Europe, was coming. The king then told Don Diego that he wanted him to give him a tour around the city and that at the second day of his arrival there would be a court ball . That second day came and Rubens came to Don Diego's studio and asked for a nude model to a demonstration of his work . But instead The Duke of Olivares arranged plans to go and see an image "ÃÂ maker . Soon , after returning to the studio Don Diego gave Juanico permission to go and rest and also to get ready for the court ball , since mostly everyone brought a slave to serve him or her . That same day Juanico fell in love with the beautiful slave Rubens brought . She was about Juanico's age and played the harp with such delicacy. The next day Juan did everything to see her but he had no luck but he did find out that her name was Miri. Later in the afternoon Don Diego wrote a note for Rubens and sent Juanico to take it to him . When he got there he found out that Miri was sick and immediately went to get a doctor just like the note to Master said . Juanico took the doctor to Rubens and at last saw Miri for the very last time because Rubens was returning to Italy that day.
Then one day while Juanico was doing some errands for Mistress he decided to buy Paquita a pet so he stopped by Dona Trini's shop , since she sold kittens . Dona Trini always said that Juanico gave her good luck so this was payback time . Dona Trini gave Juanico a white kitten and as soon as he got back he saw Mistress unpatiently waiting for him . But as soon as she saw the kitten she got overwhelmed with joy .
The kitten kept Paquita and La nina out of Master's studio and at times even Master played with Mooshi , the kitten's name. Days after the king told Don Diego that he would like him to go to Italy to see and buy some of Ruben's work and also to paint a portrait of the Infanta , the king's sister . When Mistress found out that Master wasn't taking her he harassed him saying that she would jump out the window but Master was calm because he planned to leave her at her father's house in Seville.
Finally the day of the trip arrived and they traveled in two carriages .
In one carriage Master , Mistress, and the girls. In the second carriage Juanico , the cook , and Mooshi . When they got to Mistress' father's house Don Diego became ill and didn't begin his trip until he felt better.
The trip overseas was terrible for Master . Italy was very different from Spain for example the light was a golden color . On this trip Juanico started painting in secrecy , he also sold his mother's earring for supplies to paint . About a month after they returned to Spain and found out that La nina had died . Ever since that day Master started visiting her tomb everyday until the king called him to return .
Juanico had seen Paquita grow up to be a beautiful lady . Then one day a new apprentice came to work with Don Diego . Hisn name was Juan Bautista del Mazo. When paquita came into her father's studio to ask for money so she could go shopping with her mother Juanico noticed love at first sight from both of them . Day after day they would meet and send notes through Juanico . This love grew bigger everyday. Then one day Don Diego announced that it was time for Paquita to start looking for a husband . Since that day on they met and wrote notes more than before .
Then one day Don Diego found out what was going on and when Juanico came back home from doing some errands he found out Paquita and Juan were going to get married.
About a year after Paquita's wedding the king invited Don Diego to a hunting trip . Even though Juanico didn't want to go he was commanded by Don Diego to go with them . Mistress was invited by the king but she couldn't go because Paquita was pregnant . On that hunting trip the king's dog "Corso"ÃÂ became ill and was put in Juanico's hands to get cured . And he was surely cured after a couple of days.
When they returned Don Diego started painting the king's entertainer's . Many of them were deformed people with a different point of view of what life is . But there was one of them whom Juan was close to his name was "El nino"ÃÂ Juanico told him about his paintings and about many other things.
Don Diego have had many apprentices but non like Bartolome Esteban Murillo. He was a man full of energy and happiness. He was the onw who brought joy to Mistress . Bartolome had noticed that at church Juanico never received the host . Then one day he asked Juanico why this was so and he also offered his help . Then one day Juanico made the decision of telling him his secret. He took Bartolome to his room and showed him a picture he had been working on. Juanicoand him then went to confession . Juanico went for stealing colors from Master . Bartolome stayed with the for about two years and then returned to Seville where he got married .
Paquita had already had her baby and came to visit more often . Once more the king asked Don Diego to go to Italy once more to buy sculptures for the palace and meuseums . This time the preparations were longer . When they got to Italy Master was invited to a special audience with the Pope . Not long after he was asked to paint the Pope's portrait .But before he did this he had to paint a superb portrait . Then Juanico gave his Master the idea of painting him.
Don Diego started to paint Juanico "ÃÂs portrait and finally the day came and the portrait was done . When it dried he took it to about ten painting sponsors and got commissions for his Master. Soon Master decided it was about time to return since Christmas was approaching . When they got back they noticed how much they were missed . They also found out there was a new slave in charge of taking care for Mistress , her name was Lolis . Then Juanico remembered that Don Diego had offered him anything he wanted . Juanico had made up his mind to ask Don Diego to let lim take Lolis as his wife .
Juanico had started to paint the king's three dogs and was ready to confront him and tell him and master he was painting in secrecy . Finally , the day came and the king noticed the painting and then Juanico knelt down before him and told him the truth but then after a while Don Diego gave Juanico a letter which said he was know a free man . Some days after when Mistress was feeling better Don Diego told her about Juanico wanting to get married with Lolis . Lolis said no to his request at first because she was still a slave. But immediately Mistress gave her freedom.
The time finally arrived for Juanico and Lolis to get married even though Mistress couldn't attend the wedding . Mistress gave them blue silk as wedding gift , Don Diego gave them rugs and chairs , the king gave them a velvet bag with thirty ducats .That same year the most horrible things happened . First Paquita died while giving birth and so did the baby . Two months after Mistress died from health problems , and Don Diego became very ill from all that had happened . When he began to recover he started doing the preparations for the king's sister's wedding .
After everything was perfectly finished it was beautiful . Then one day Dr.
Mendez made a pronouncement that Don Diego would die , and so he did and he was laid next to Paquita and Mistress. In honor of Don Diego Juanico and the king painted the cross of Santiago on his only self- portrait .
Seville felt welcoming for Juanico and Lolis and so did Bartolome's house which was offered by him to Juanico . Juanico was now Bartolome's new apprentice.