It turns out I had to manually add a mode line to the XF86Config file to get that resolution detected. I bet recent X.Org versions do not need this as, e.g. Fedora Core 6 works fine without manual fiddling.
Writing mode lines is not fun, but fortunately I came across an automated generator. In fact, this seems to be just a web-based frontend to the gtf tool provided by NVIDIA. So I entered the appropriate details (x = 1440, y = 900, refresh = 60), hit the Generate modeline button and got:
# 1440x900 @ 60.00 Hz (GTF) hsync: 55.92 kHz; pclk: 106.47 MHz
Modeline "1440x900_60.00" 106.47 1440 1520 1672 1904 900 901 904 932 -HSync +Vsync
After that I had to make the HorizSync and VertRefresh values in my configuration file a bit wider to fulfill this mode's request and everything worked fine. Be extremely careful if you mess with synchronization values though; incorrect ones can physically damage a monitor, although I think this is not a problem for LCDs.