Nude Descending a Staircase, December 1937
Pochoir-colored collotype, after the oil painting, Nude Dedcending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912, 13 ¾ x 7 7/8 inches
Signed and dated lower center, in blue in, over French 5-centimes revenue stamp: Dec. 37 / M. Duchamp

During the summer of 1937, as Duchamp was in the process of assembling items for his Boîte-en-valise (see below), he came up with an idea to help fund the elaborate and expensive project: issuing five hand-colored pochoirs prints of select paintings that would be included in the work.  In the end, he produced only two: one of his famous Nu descendant un escallier and another of his Mariée

The differences that exist between an original and its copy are not only concerns that affect the world of art, but they are matters of critical importance within the legal profession.  Duchamp was keenly aware of this fact, for his father had worked as a notary, first serving in the town where he was raised, Blainville-Crevon, and later in Rouen.  The young Duchamp would have had many opportunities to witness the activities of his father, who was frequently called upon to authenticate the validity of legal documents, deeds, trusts, real estate transactions, and property settlements.  After these papers had been carefully reviewed, the notary applies his signature over the surface of a small-denomination postage stamp (a practice still followed in France today), thereby diminishing the potential for forgery and elevating the status of a document to legal tender. Duchamp followed this very same procedure when he issued these deluxe, hand-colored pochoirs of his earlier paintings.  He was, in effect, following the same procedure utilized by his father, but here ingeniously validating the authenticity and faithful reproduction of his own work.