EDNOTE. The Sebastiano del Pombo painting (and hereby attached) is indeed VN's prototype. The "Painting of a Girl" that Dane Gill had initially sent in was a different painting from the correct image included in Maxim Shrayer's explication. NABOKV-L thanks DN for his informative comments.
----- Original Message -----
From: Dmitri Nabokov
DN comment about the Veneziana painting.
It's not clear to me whether the painting reproduced in the present attachment is the one sent by Dane Gill. In any case, considerable investigation has indicated that it is indeed the painting whose original VN had in mind, and that appeared on the covers of the French and Italian editions that contained the story. What Maxim neglected to point out in his informative post is something Dane Gill had almost right: Sebastiano del Piombo named the painting, after its probable suject, "Giovane romana detta [known as]  Dorotea [not ' Doretea']".  The artist himself was named Sebastiano Luciani. He moved to Rome, introduced the Roman painters to his Venetian School, met Michelangelo shortly after the completion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling (an encounter he considered the high point of his career), and became known as Fra Bastiano del Piombo after he entered a monastery, benefitting from a generous emolument from Clement VII, where his job was to apply leaden seals "to the fiery papal bulls," hence the sobriquet "del Piombo." He was a dissolute monk but a superb painter. VN, who knew the story of Luciani well, probably changed the portrait's title in subtle deference to the Venetian School and origin of the artist, or to impart an additional touch of mystery. If one examines the painting closely, one notices the meticulous detail described in the story. Nabokov's images generally do not "symbolize," a notion he rejected. The dimensions of the story are more direct, if seasoned with an eerie hint of the unreal: a playful reversal of emergence from a picture, the stuff of fairy tales and horror films. And there is a sticky twist: Simpson's desperate struggle to yank himself back out of the painting before it congeals. Then again, the whole episode, with all its vivid, living detail, may have been a dream -- caress, too, the narrative details of Simpson's somnolence; his impressionable nature; the aura of McGore's strange talk about entering paintings; the effect of Simpson's increasing identification of the girl in the painting with Maureen, whose fur he has seen being caught up while slipping off her shoulder just as  in the picture; his awakening on the lawn outside the castle, and yet... The striking resemblance of the painted lady to Maureen is explained with sudden logic by the sequence of surprises at the story's end, and Simpson admits he has had a monstrous dream. But is he telling the truth? Are the logic and the clues reliable? There are surreal nuances of mystery. Certain details seem not to jibe -- the lemon, for one, that Simpson received from la Veneziana in the painting, and that may be the lemon the gardener picks up next day. 
-----Original Message-----
From: Sandy Klein [mailto:sk@starcapital.net]
Sent: jeudi, 16. octobre 2003 20:12
To: Subject: Fw: La Veneziana painting

From: D. Barton Johnson [mailto:chtodel@cox.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 1:05 PM
Subject: Fw: La Veneziana painting

EDRESPONSE to Dane Gill re "original" of "La Veneziana". The picture you sent is not the one VN had in mind. Maxim Shrayer, who is an authority on VN's stories, offered the note  below in THE NABOKOVIAN and on ZEMBLA http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/shrayer1.htm

Entering the Otherspace
"Venetsianka" ("La Veneziana," 1924) deserves special attention by the students of Nabokov's early works because it employs elements of the fantastical in order to explore the connections among desire, painting, and the otherworld as sources of artistic inspiration and expression. The longest among the early stories and only recently published in the original, "La Veneziana," like its coevals "The Potato Elf" and "Revenge," is set in England. The main triangle of desire entails one McGore, an old art dealer and an adviser to a rich art collector known as the Colonel, McGore's young wife Maureen, and the Colonel's son Frank. McGore has located a rare fifteenth-century Italian canvas and sold it to the Colonel . The presumed author of the painting, Sebastiano Luciani, called Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547), was a major Renaissance painter of the Venetian School, and Nabokov might have seen del Piombo's famous canvas, Ritratto Femminile ("Dorotea"), in Berlin (Gemaldegalerie, Berlin-Dahlem; the painting appears on the cover of the French edition of Nabokov's early stories to which "La Veneziana" gave its title; see La Venitienne et autres nouvelles, Paris, 1990). The landscape vista in the background of del Piombo's portrait symbolizes an alluring otherspace, that is a space with a dissimilar set of parameters.

While Maureen and Frank are in the midst of a tempestuous affair in the story, Frank's college roommate, one Simpson, also feels an irresistible attraction to Maureen. More so, after looking at the Colonel's new painting, Simpson notices an uncanny resemblance between Maureen and the woman on the canvas. To add to Simpson's fascination, McGore shares a "secret": years of dealing with paintings have taught him that through an act of concentrated will one can enter the space of a given painting and explore it from within. Simpson is equally drawn to Maureen and the Venetian woman in the painting. At night, literalizing McGore's supernatural metaphor, Simpson walks into the space of the portrait where the beautiful Maureen/La Veneziana offers him a lemon. Simpson "grows" into the canvas, becomes part of its painted space. The story's fantastical spring has now almost unwound itself.

"La Veneziana" embodies several key elements to become central to Nabokov's poetics. Afloat in the story's enchanting and elegant syntax, and never fully synthesized and harmonized, these elements call for scrutiny. One should start paying increasing attention to Nabokov's concern with the problem of entering a space whose parameters differ from the regular space enveloping a character. In addition, Nabokov constructs this otherspace to host visually perfect images. In the case of La Veneziana's portrait, the pictorial space of the canvas becomes charged with the features of the stunning and sensuous Maureen. Frank endows his creation with extraordinary perfection to further his love for the original and thereby not repeat Pygmalion's tragic mistake. In contrast to Frank, his friend Simpson falls in love with an image of idealized feminine beauty which appears to him even better than the possessor of this beauty in flesh and blood. Simpson succumbs to the magnetism of the otherworldly pictorial space, which gleams through an opening in his mundane reality. In his consciousness, the image of beauty wins over beauty itself. To put it differently, when Simpson reads the text of the otherspace within the story by gazing deeply at the portrait, he is compelled to become part of that text. During the act of reading, the reader who follows Simpson in his lunatic exploration thus experiences a textual simulacrum of the pictorial space which Simpson transgresses in the story. What we have then is a story, a verbal text, which frames another text-the pictorial text of the otherspace rendered by a linguistic medium-and thereby foregrounds a specific model of its reading.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dane Gill" <pennyparkerpark@hotmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 8:26 AM
Subject: La Veneziana

 I sent a very similar email as this one sometime yesterday, however it
 supposedly never went through. So, if this is the second time reading about
 La Veneziana please ignore.
 I have search the net for a copy of the painting that was the
 inspiration for the fictitious painting in this short story. The title
 DN gives in his notes (The Stories of VN,vintage 2002) is in Italian -
 "Giovane romana detta
 Doretea" -  but  I've only come across this painting (see attachment) titled
 in English - "Portrait of a Girl". Could somebody please confirm or
 deny this?