Visits to the Jeavons’ household help Nick begin to fill out his picture of Molly Jeavons: “She might have the acquisitive instinct to capture from her first marriage (if that was indeed their provenance) such spoils as the Wilson and the Greuze, while remaining wholly untouched by the intellectual emancipation, however skin-deep, of her generation: the Russian Ballet: the painters of the Paris School: novels and poetry of the period: not even such a mournful haunt of the third-rate as the Celtic Twilight had played a part in her life.” [ALM 158/]
The Paris School alludes not so much to a style of art but to Paris’ role as the magnet for forward-thinking artists of every stripe during the first part of the 20th century, up until World War II. In the period before World War I, which would be when Lady Molly was coming of age as the mistress of Dogdene, the Paris School would have included Picasso and Miro among its painters, Brancusi and Modigliani among its sculptors. It is Lady Molly’s immunity to so many new strains of art — Cubism, Surrealism, the magical realism of Chagall, the expressionism of Soutine, the elongated figures of Modigliani — that signals her lack of enthusiasm for art, despite the Wilson and Greuze on her walls. We could show any number of the diverse output of the School of Paris, but we have chosen here an artist not actually mentioned in Dance.
The Celtic Twilight refers to a renaissance of Irish literature focused on a revival of interest in Gaelic folklore and Irish nationalism at the end of the 19th century. The name itself derives from William Butler Yeats’ 1893 collection of tales and poems entitled “The Celtic Twilight.” The Celtic Twilight also inspired a number of visual artists and an increased interest in older designs like the Celtic cross. Jenkins is not alone in disparaging this movement; in Finnegan’s Wake, James Joyce wrote of the “cultic twalette,” but it should be remarked that its luminaries include not only Yeats but Sean O’Casey, John Millington Synge, and George Bernard Shaw.