About the Portrait
John Singleton Copley, 18th-century Boston's preeminent portraitist, painted Mrs. John Gray most likely in 1763.
His subject, Mary Otis Gray, was the daughter of James and Mary Allyne Otis of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Born
in 1730, Mary had many siblings, among them James Otis, Jr., and Mercy Otis Warren, who both became active in the
Revolutionary cause in America. In 1761, Mary wed John Gray, a Boston merchant, ropewalk owner, and collector of
customs, and a Tory. She died on November 5 of the year that Copley painted this portrait. In 1923, a bequest of
Pelham Winslow Warren gave the painting, along with mourning rings for Mrs. Gray and her infant son, John, to the Society.
Mrs. John Gray is representative of John Singleton Copley's mature American style. Although his drawing remained a
weak point-here evident in Mrs. Gray's awkward right arm and her hands-Copley employed a subtler use of shading and shadow
than in his earlier portraits, as well as a sophisticated composition of vertical and diagonal elements.
About John Singleton Copley
Copley Portraits at the Massachusetts Historical Society