"A black boy asks for some pie from a white boy, who refuses, while another turns to the viewer and grins. In the 19th century the painting's title, ‘The Poor Black Boy,’ implied that the boy was begging for charity. However, his earthenware jug and proper shoes clearly indicate he is a servant boy whose position is probably better than the white boys', who may have resorted to stealing the pie.
The servant boy could even be a portrait of the son of Murillo's household slave girl, Juana de Santiago, whom Murillo freed in 1676. Indeed, it has been suggested that the two white boys are Murillo's own sons, Gabriel and Gaspar."