Nabokov's (Invented) Butterflies
Lorelei Underwing (Catocala lorelei) from Ada, or Ardor - Recto I
Watercolor and gouache on Arches
20 1/4 x 26 in
One of the many invented insects of Ada, the Lorelei Underwing has a particularly beautiful, but dark, suggestive power. From Dieter E. Zimmer's helpful notes on Nabokov's butterflies: Many underwings have names suggestive of the marital status of women (electa, nupta, sponsa, adultera). Lorelei is the Sirene in German folklore who sitting on a rock above the river Rhine lures fishermen to their doom, the German conspecific of la belle dame sans merci.