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Doctors without Borders to sell rare Duchamp nude at Paris auction to fund its field operations

The painting was recently classified as a National Treasure, however, which means it cannot leave France

A significant early work by Marcel Duchamp, Nu sur Nu (Nude on Nude) will be the star lot of the Impressionist and Modern art sale at the Paris auction house Artcurial on 6 June. The Expressionist female nude oil on panel was painted in 1910-11—predating Duchamp’s 1912 Modernist masterpiece Nude Descending a Staircase, which was shown at the New York Armory the following year.

“Nude on Nude marks an important step in Marcel Duchamp’s evolution, when he started to distance himself from Fauvism under the influence of Symbolism,” says Bruno Jaubert, Artcurial’s director of Impressionist and Modern art.

The painting, consigned by Doctors without Borders to finance its field operations, has an impeccable provenance. Bequeathed to the medical charity by the heirs of Arnold Fawcus, the founder of the fine art publisher Trianon Press and Duchamp’s close friend, it has been shown in major exhibitions at the Tate Gallery, London in 1966; MoMA, New York and the Art Institute of Chicago in 1973-74; the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1977; and most recently the Centre Pompidou in 2014.

Artcurial has set a presale estimate of €500,000-€700,000, a seemingly conservative range that may reflect the painting’s classification this year as a National Treasure—a double-edged compliment which means it can’t be exported from France.