Last week I wrote about the history and landscape of London’s Richmond Park, which is one of the settings in my novel, The Antique Love. (Release date 30th August 2013)
Some of the action of The Antique Love also takes place in the antique shop run by the heroine, Penny. Penny’s shop contains an eclectic mixture of antiques, from clockwork toys, to old dress fans, to rare books. Her favourite part of the shop, though, is the jewellery collection, and in particular an antique love toke. Penny has formed one of her romantic attachments to this love token, and she refuses to sell it until she finds the right customer. Here’s what she tells the hero, Kurt:
“Just look at it,” she said. Didn’t he see? “I could fall in love with the beauty of it. Think of the hours of work and the craftsmanship and the century of history behind it. The person who leaves the shop with this pendant will buy it because he has to have it. And he won’t be buying it on a whim. He’ll be buying it for the woman he loves with a passion.”
One day the right customer does walk into Penny’s shop – but it’s not the man she expects!
Here is my inspiration for Penny’s love token:
This love token is made from platinum and gold, with seventeen rose diamonds, and two pearls in the centre. It’s a wonderfully crafted design, and I absolutely love it. It dates from the turn of the twentieth century. The style is a mix of Victorian and art nouveau.
I often find the Victorian style a little too ornate and fussy. All those bows and tartan on the dresses, the parlours cluttered with ornaments, and the trend for ostentatious jewellery. The art nouveau period, at the turn of the twentieth century, swept away all these frills and furbelows, and it’s a style I love.
Art nouveau is French for “new art”. It’s hard to sum up in words what this new art meant, but I’ll try! To me, art nouveau is all about dramatic, curving lines with themes and colours taken from nature. The terraced house I live in was built during this period. Sadly, the original stained glass windows in my house are long gone :( , but I have a replica which encapsulates the art nouveau style:
The window is in the style of the art nouveau artist Rennie Mackintosh.
The art nouveau style can also be found in architecture, and some of the best examples are in the old Metro stations in Paris. And Art nouveau is becoming popular again today in the form of Steampunk. This is a photo of a couple of pages of my brilliant steampunk graphic novel, Grandville Bête-Noire, by Bryan Talbot. You can just see the art nouveau Metro sign, and a few other examples of this style in the posters on the walls:
Here’s also my art nouveau glass light-shade. Sadly not an original – I wish!
And my art nouveau tiles and old Mills and Boon books :
If you’re interested in finding out more about the art nouveau style, there are lots of examples here in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum website.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief introduction to the art nouveau style. One thing I share with my heroine, Penny, is trying to picture the people who enjoyed these old objects. Some people prefer houses furnished on more modern and minimalist ines. What do you think? Old or new? Or a mixture? If you enjoyed my post, or have any comments, please let me know!