Peyton’s Promise: Art Nouveau?

As Peyton works on reupholstering furniture in Calumet Castle, Art Nouveau fabric becomes a focus. But what is Art Nouveau?

It was a popular aesthetic movement from 1890-1910. It was meant to modernize the Victorian-era with geometric and organic themes, elegant designs, and the natural beauty taken from nature. Here’s an excerpt from Peyton’s Promise that explores this movement:

Patting her pocket, she surveyed the bolts. Sure enough, Art Nouveau fabrics littered the pile. Running her fingers over the heavy material, her excitement grew. She’d use many of them, some with modern geometric shapes of arcs, parabolas, and semicircles. There was lavender ribbon with pink roses, rosettes, and other flowers on a cream background for the great hall. And even bolder fabrics with peacock feathers and poppies.

Behind her, Patrick ascended the ladder, humming, “It is Well With my Soul,” a song that had become her papa’s favorite. Sad, melancholy, yet uplifting and reverent at the same time.

 “Patrick, do you know the story behind that tune you’re humming?” Papa had related it to her just last week. Perhaps sharing it now might soothe ruffled feathers.

 Patrick paused, shaking his head as he stopped filling a nail hole. “Nae, I don’t. Please tell.”

Peyton drew closer, as the touching tale did not lend itself to shouting. “There was a man who lost his little boy in the Great Chicago fire of 1871, the fire that also hurt his business badly. Two years later, he sent his family to England, but the ship sank, and all four of his daughters died. Only his wife survived and told him of the tragedy in a telegram. When he went to meet her in England, his ship passed near where the girls died, and he wrote this song about it.”

A woman’s voice commented instead of Patrick’s. “I didn’t know that. How tragic!”

Peyton spun around to find Mrs. Emery with a man who she assumed to be her husband.

Caught shirkin’, as Rachel had called it. Peyton’s face heated, and she curtsied low. “Forgive me. He was humming my papa’s favorite tune, and my tongue flew into the tale.”

The missus laughed. “And an interesting story it was. No harm. This is Mr. Emery.” She inclined her head toward her husband. “We’ve come to examine the fabric I’ve chosen.”



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