No, I haven't tried another recently, and have never experienced this kind of behaviour. But it seems really related to an incompatibility between nautilus 2 and the nvidia drivers.
I tried the opensource nv driver, and it worked like a charm (but of course then I loose 3D acceleration). And disabling one specific acceleration (see original post) with nvidia cures the problem.
Discussing on a gnome list, I learned that nautilus 2 uses some rarely used drawing routines, which revealed bugs in several X display drivers. It seems the nvidia drivers are part of the bunch :-(