In the era of Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyke, Spain had its own great painter—Diego Velásquez. His assistant is Juan, an African slave who helps his master in his studio by preparing paints and stretching canvasses. Soon, by spending time in the studio and watching his master's technique, Juan begins to teach himself to paint too. But such work as the creation of art is forbidden to slaves. Delighted with his work but carefully guarding his secret, Juan is torn between the need to protect himself and the need to reveal his talent.