EDNOTE. Apologies. My computer seems to be having a fit of premature emission--doubtless due to the subject matter of the posting. I trust this third attempt will more successful.
----- Original Message -----
From: D. Barton Johnson
To: nabokv-l@listserv.ucsb.edu
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 3:29 PM
Subject: Van loves Ada+Lucette; Casanova's Memoirs; QUERY/ KVEREE

In ADA II-8 (418-22) the morning  after the nightclub scene Van  finds himself abed with both sisters.  Nabokov writes:

"What we have now is not so much a Casanovanic situation (that double-wencher had a definitely monochromatic pencil — in keeping with the memoirs of his dingy era) as a much earlier canvas, of the Venetian (sensu largo) school, reproduced (in ‘Forbidden Masterpieces’) expertly enough to stand the scrutiny of a bordel's vue d’oiseau" (418).


In his notes to Oksana Kirichenko's Russia translation of ADA, Nikolai Mel'nikov identifies the Casanova allusion as the latter's account of  a dalliance with --"two delightfully amenable sisters, Nanette and Marton" (592). In the interest of hard core Nabokov scholarship, I located the episode at http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/c/c33m/chapter5.html in the classic London 1894 translation based on Casanova's French manuscripts as translated by Arthur Machen.

Giacomo Casanova

The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt


An Unlucky Night I Fall in Love with the Two Sisters, and Forget Angela—A Ball at My House—Juliette’s Humiliation—My Return to Pasian—Lucie’s Misfortune—A Propitious Storm

There is in fact very little in common between Casanova's account and ADA's description of the Ada/Van/Lucette episode apart from the basic two  sister element,or,. Ada and Lucette are no Nanette and Marton; nor Van, Casanova. Indeed VN specifically rejects Casanova (who was Venetian by birth) as a prototype in favor of an "earlier canvas, of the Venetian (sense largo) school, reproduced (in ‘Forbidden Masterpieces’)."
All of which brings us to MY QUERY. Can anyone offer a  suggestion as to the prototype painting of the "unsigned, unframed" scene in question? (If it is not entirely VN's verbal creation?) And/or the "Forbidden Masterpieces" collection of photographs of the more sensual paintings of the Old Masters?