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Anyone who has seen the movie “Rocky” will remember the scene where Rocky is training for the big fight, and he runs up the 72 steps leading up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and then stands triumphant at the top, as you can see below. But did you know that there’s some interesting art inside the museum that has the theme of stairs as well?

Two significant pieces from the museum’s permanent collection also feature stairs. Below left is Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2,” painted in 1912. And below right is Charles Willson Peale’s “Staircase Group (Portrait of Raphaelle Peale and Titian Ramsay Peale),” painted in 1795. The fun thing about this painting is that Peale installed it in an actual door frame with a step in front … and rumor has it, that on a visit to the Peale’s home, George Washington walked past it and tipped his hat to the “boys,” tricked by the illusion. I don’t have any way to verify that story, but it’s a good one.

art by Marcel Duchamp and Charles Willson Peale