Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0004638, Wed, 22 Dec 1999 15:41:32 -0800

Nabokov and Balthus (fwd)
From: Iann88@aol.com

The enigmatic painter Balthus famous for his depictions of erotic portraits
of young girls finally has received full biographical treatment by Nicholas
Fox Weber ("Balthus," Alfred Knopf, 1999). Given Bathus' s erotic interest
in young girls, it is not surprising that Nabokov and his "Lolita" figure in
the book.

On page 400, Weber recounts a party at the home of Billy Wilder, the
Hollywood director who possessed a famous collection of contemporary art,
which included works by Picasso and Matisse. Nabokov was present among the
group. Weber writes, "The guests were all musing about which picture they
would take as their own if they could choose just one. Nabokov had no doubt
as to what his selection would be, and was proud of it. He pointed to the
Balthus frontal nude of a teenage girl and said with unabashed delight that
he would pick that one."

On page 32 of the biography, there is the cover illustration of the Penguin
paperback "Lolita": it is the 1937 Balthus painting "Girl with a Cat"
showing a nymphet in a seductive pose with one leg raised up to reveal her

Weber mentions the "Lolita" theme several times in his treatment of Balthus.

Phillip Iannarelli
Cleveland, Ohio