Marcel Duchamp


ARTCURIAL         Painting: Marcel Duchamp, “Nu sur nu” 1910-1911        

PARIS                     Estimate 500 000-700 000 Euro                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Sale Date:

Monday, 6th June,

At 8pm

Exhibition Date:

From Friday 3rd June 2016 

To Sunday 5th June 2016






Paris – On June 6th 2016, during the prestigious Impressionist and Modern art sale, Artcurial will put up a national treasure for auction: the famous oil painting on panel, Nu sur nu by Marcel Duchamp (estimate : 500 000 – 700 000 €/ 555 000 – 775 000 $).  The work, offered by N.G.O. Médecins  sans  frontières in  order  to  finance  humanitarian  aid,  was  previously  left  to  the  association by ancestors of the renowned art publisher Arnold Fawcus, a close friend of Marcel Duchamp. The painting is key to  understanding  Marcel  Duchamp’s  work  and  was  recently  shown  at  the  Centre  Pompidou  at  the  monographic  exhibition  dedicated to the painter in 2014.


The last owner of this work was Arnold Fawcus. He was born in India to an English father and American mother. He studied  at Trinity College and then Cambridge where he carried out a degree in art history. His passion for art pushed him to create a publishing company in France in 1946 with Pierre Bordas initially and then alone under the name, ‘Trianon Press’. The first publications include works by Marc Chagall accurately reproduced.

It was in  France  that  Arnold  Fawcus  met  Marcel  Duchamp.  They  soon  became  friends  and  the  art  book  editor  suggested collaborating on several projects including the first monograph dedicated to the artist published in 1959. They continued to work together on several occasions. The painting Nu sur nu is the symbol of their friendship. It was acquired directly from the wife of collector, Henri-Pierre Roche’s by Arnold Fawcus who kept it until he passed away. Arnold Fawcus’ ancestors donated the painting to Médecins sans frontières.

Today, Médecins sans frontières is putting the painting up for auction in order to finance humanitarian aid. Under the charity’s governance it is stated that donated works must be sold in order to further develop resources and programmes. MSF chose an auction and Artcurial to obtain the best possible price for this important work.

In certain conditions, acquiring a national treasure by an individual or a company allows tax benefits.


The Nu sur nu was constructed around two major ideas : appearance and nudity which are also present in the cubist “Nu descendant l’escalier” (1912).

“The  piece  Nu  sur  nu represents  an  important  step  in  the evolution  of  Marcel  Duchamp’s  work. It  was painted  just  months before the famous Nu descendant l’escalier (1912), a cubic work which was celebrated at the Armory Show in New York the following year. At this time, he moved away from fauvism and was influence by symbolism. Being classed as a national treasure is an additional mark of quality for  this painting which is already quite remarkable due to its provenance.” explains Bruno Jaubert, Director of the Impressionist and Modern art department at Artcurial.

The public has been able to see the work on several occasions. It has been part of the most important retrospectives of the artist including : ‘The almost complete works of Marcel Duchamp’at the Tate Gallery in London in 1966, ‘Marcel  Duchamp’ at  the  MoMA  in  New  York  and  at  the  Art  Institute in Chicago in 1973-1974, ‘L’œuvre de Marcel Duchamp’at the Musée national d’Art  Moderne  de  Paris  in  1977 and  most  recently ‘Marcel  Duchamp : la peinture, même’at the Centre Pompidou in 2014-2015.

The painting  was  classed as a national  treasure  by the  French state  in 2016.

Catalogue available online at

Estimates in dollars provided as a guide

About Artcurial – Founded in 2002, Artcurial confirmed its position as the leading French auction house in 2014. It covers all the major specialist  fields,  from  the  Fine  and  Decorative  Arts  to  Collectibles.  With  two  sale  venues  (Paris  and  Monte- Carlo),  the  auction  house achieved an overall sales total of 192 M€in 2014, representing an increase of 50% in 3 years. It has confirmed its position as market leader for Comic Strips in Europe, Collectors’Cars in continental Europe, jewellery and watches in France and Monaco and Old Master Paintings in Paris. With a strong international bias, Artcurial maintains its presence abroad with offices in Milan, Vienna and Brussels, representatives in Beijing and Tel Aviv, and twice-yearly exhibitions in New York. In October 2015, Artcurial held its first sale in Hong Kong and Morocco.

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