The painting, Nu sur Nu, a 2ft 1in x 20in (65 x 51cm) oil on panel of 1910-11 which was part of the auctioneers’ sale of Impressionist and Modern Art, was consigned to the sale by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) to finance humanitarian aid. MSF were left the painting by Julia Fawcus, widow of the art publisher Arnold Fawcus, a close friend of the artist.
The painting, which is classed as a national treasure, was created just months before Duchamp painted his famous Nude Descending a Staircase. It was bought at the auction by an international collector who paid almost double the estimate for the work after a long phone bidding battle. It is the highest price paid at auction for a painting (as opposed to a three-dimensional work) by Duchamp.
“We are thrilled that this painting was able to reach over €1m. It is one of the greatest donations ever received by Médecins Sans Frontières,” said Stéphane Roques, MSF’s general manager.
Duchamp (1887-1968) is probably best known for Fountain, a standard urinal placed upside down and signed and dated signed and dated R. Mutt 1917. The original is now lost but the Tate gallery in London has a 1964 replica made from glazed earthenware painted to resemble the original porcelain.