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Superbowl Art Wager
Superbowl Art Wager

Mrs. James Warren (Mercy Otis) by John Singleton Copley (American, 1738–1815), about 1763. Bequest of Winslow Warren. Photo: © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Before this year’s Super Bowl was played, The Philadelphia Museum of Art approached the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a unique agreement was born. Each museum agreed to loan the winner a piece of art from their collection. Fast forward to post-game and The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be getting on loan from Boston, Mrs. James Warren (Mercy Otis), about 1763, by John Singleton Copley. According to Architectural Digest, “A proud patriot, Mrs. Warren was a woman way ahead of her time. According to the MFA, as a child, she was allowed her to attend her older brother’s lessons with a tutor as he prepared for Harvard, a privilege most women of the day would have been denied. Later, she was encouraged by her husband, successful merchant James Warren, to compose essays, poems, and plays with a sharp, satirical eye that examined the political landscape of her day. Her most famous work is the three-volume History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution. While Warren was bursting with literary potential, the oil on canvas painting depicts her in traditional feminine roles. Dressed in a stylish blue satin sacque dress, lace stole, and lace ruffled sleeves, she gently touches the vines of Nasturtiums—edible flowers that were known to be symbolic of patriotism. According to the MFA, her level gaze and reassured mouth gives viewers a clue that in just a few short years, she will bypass the traditional feminine roles the time period expected of her.”

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