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Henry Cumming—Vladimir Nabokov’s First Drawing Master

From: Nabokov Studies
Volume 12, 2009/2011
pp. 49-62 | 10.1353/nab.2009.0000



The article discusses Henry Cumming’s impact on Nabokov’s artistic development. It shows that, although not a distinguished painter, Cumming was a gifted pedagogue. He instructed Nabokov the boy into the basic laws and rules of draftsmanship and inculcated in his young charge an early fascination with and emotional attachment to painting. When Nabokov turned from the brush to the quill, he did not forget his lessons with Cumming and channeled his penchant for painting, specifically landscape, into his fiction.