MFA ships a patriot to Philly to satisfy Super Bowl bet

Philadelphia Museum of Art

John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Mercy Otis

By Globe Staff  

Making good on a Super Bowl bet, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has shipped a painting from its collection — a portrait of Mercy Otis, one of the fiercest advocates for independence prior to the Revolutionary War — to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The painting of Otis, who’s considered by historians to be a true patriot, was painted by John Singleton Copley around 1763. It’ll be hung in the American Galleries of the PMA for three months as a result of a wager between Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener CEO of the PMA, and Matthew Teitelbaum, the Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA.


Otis was a poet, playwright, and political satirist who spoke out against British colonial rule and for a time published political plays and parodies anonymously to cloak her identity as a woman.

“She’s the perfect prize for Philadelphia after the Eagles’ victory, representing one of Boston’s finest artists and one of its most accomplished women,” said PMA curator Kathleen Adair Foster. “She will be given a place of honor here in our galleries.”