Nabokov and Balthus: The Erotic Imagination

Jeffrey Meyers in Salmagundi:

Despite their idiosyncratic characters, the close contemporaries Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) and Balthazar (Balthus) Klossowski (1908-2001) had a surprisingly similar background, life, character, art and career. In fact, both author and painter were exceptionally handsome, with elegant manners and regal demeanor, and had sophisticated wit, comic irony, perverse ideas and lubricious work.

Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg. His father, who belonged to the Russian nobility, was a Liberal lawyer, statesman and writer, and a member of Alexander Kerensky’s doomed cabinet in March 1917. In the days before the Revolution the wealthy family took many holidays in Europe, and had fifty full-time servants in their St. Petersburg mansion and their country estate fifty miles from the capital.

Balthus also had a cosmopolitan Slavic background. His maternal grandfather Abraham Spiro, born in Russia, was a Jewish cantor and two of his thirteen children became opera singers. (Nabokov’s wife was Jewish and his son Dmitri became an opera singer in Milan.)

More here.