A niche ( CanE , UK: // or US: // ) in Classical architecture is an exedra or an apse that has been reduced in size, retaining the half-dome heading usual for an apse. Nero's Domus Aurea (AD 64–69) was the first semi-private dwelling that possessed rooms that were given richly varied floor plans, shaped with niches and exedrae; sheathed in dazzling polished white marble, such curved surfaces concentrated or dispersed the daylight.
The word derives from the Latin nidus or nest, via the French niche. The Italian nicchio for a sea-shell may also be involved,as the traditional decoration for the top of a niche is a scallop shell, as in the illustration, hence also the alternative term of "conch" for a semi-dome, usually reserved for larger exedra.
In Gothic architecture, a niche may be set within a tabernacle framing, like a richly decorated miniature house ( aedicula ), such as might serve for a reliquary. The backings for the altars in churches (reredos) can be embedded with niches for statues. Though a niche in either Classical or Gothic contexts may be empty and merely provide some articulation and variety to a section of wall, the cult origins of the niche suggested that it be filled with a statue. One of the earliest buildings which uses external niches containing statues is the Church of Orsanmichele in Florence, built between 1380 and 1404. The Uffizi Palace in Florence (1560–81) modified the concept by setting the niche within the wall so it did not protrude. The Uffizi has two dozen or so such niches containing statues of great historical figures. In England, the Uffizi style niches were adopted at Montacute House (c. 1598), where there are nine exterior niches containing statues of the Nine Worthies. In Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna, the trompe-l'oeil niche frames her as with the canopy of estate that was positioned over a personage of importance in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe. At the same time, the Madonna is represented as an iconic sculpture who has "come alive" with miraculous immediacy.
Expanding from its primary sense as an architectural recess, a niche can be applied to a rocky hollow, crack, crevice, or foothold. The sense of a niche as a clearly defined narrow space led to its use describing the relational position of an organism's species, its ecological niche.
The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence in the region of Tuscany, Italy. One of the most important Italian museums and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, better known as Donatello, was an Italian sculptor of the Renaissance. Born in Florence, he studied classical sculpture and used this to develop a complete Renaissance style in sculpture, whose periods in Rome, Padua and Siena introduced to other parts of Italy a long and productive career. He worked with stone, bronze, wood, clay, stucco and wax, and had several assistants, with four perhaps being a typical number. Though his best-known works were mostly statues in the round, he developed a new, very shallow, type of bas-relief for small works, and a good deal of his output was larger architectural reliefs.
Filippo Brunelleschi, considered to be a founding father of Renaissance architecture, was an Italian architect and designer, and is now recognized to be the first modern engineer, planner, and sole construction supervisor. He is most famous for designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, a feat of engineering that had not been accomplished since antiquity, as well as the development of the mathematical technique of linear perspective in art which governed pictorial depictions of space until the late 19th century and influenced the rise of modern science. His accomplishments also include other architectural works, sculpture, mathematics, engineering, and ship design. His principal surviving works can be found in Florence, Italy.
Filippino Lippi was an Italian painter working in Florence, Italy during the later years of the Early Renaissance and first few years of the High Renaissance.
Santa Maria Novella is a church in Florence, Italy, situated opposite, and lending its name to, the city's main railway station. Chronologically, it is the first great basilica in Florence, and is the city's principal Dominican church.
Orsanmichele is a church in the Italian city of Florence. The building was constructed on the site of the kitchen garden of the monastery of San Michele which no longer exists.
Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, is the cathedral of Florence, Italy. It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white, and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.
Siena Cathedral is a medieval church in Siena, Italy, dedicated from its earliest days as a Roman Catholic Marian church, and now dedicated to the Assumption of Mary.
An exedra is a semicircular architectural recess or platform, sometimes crowned by a semi-dome, and either set into a building's façade or free-standing. The original Greek sense was applied to a room that opened onto a stoa, ringed with curved high-backed stone benches, a suitable place for conversation. An exedra may also be expressed by a curved break in a colonnade, perhaps with a semicircular seat.
Fra'Filippo Lippi, also known as Lippo Lippi, was an Italian painter of the Quattrocento.
Tribune is an ambiguous – and often misused – architectural term, which can have several meanings. Today, it most often refers to a dais or stage-like platform or, in a vaguer sense, any place from which a speech can be prominently made.
The Pontifical Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in Padua, Veneto, Northern Italy, dedicated to St. Anthony. Although the Basilica is visited as a place of pilgrimage by people from all over the world, it is not the titular cathedral of the city, a title belonging to the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Mary of Padua. The basilica is known locally as "il Santo". It is one of the eight international shrines recognized by the Holy See.
The decade of the 1460s in art involved some significant events.
In architecture, a semi-dome is a half dome that covers a semi-circular area in a building.
The Coronation of the Virgin is a painting of the Coronation of the Virgin by the Italian Renaissance master Filippo Lippi, in the Uffizi, Florence.
The Barbadori Altarpiece is a painting by Filippo Lippi, dated to 1438 and housed in the Louvre Museum of Paris.
The Madonna of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Filippo Lippi. It is housed in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi of Florence, central Italy.
Madonna with Child is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Filippo Lippi. The date in which it was executed is unknown, but most art historians agree that it was painted during the last part of Lippi's career, between 1450 and 1465. It is one of the few works by Lippi which was not executed with the help of his workshop and was an influential model for later depictions of the Madonna and Child, including those by Sandro Botticelli. The painting is housed in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy, and is therefore commonly called “The Uffizi Madonna” among art historians.
The Novitiate Altarpiece or Madonna and Child with Saints is a c.1440-1445 tempera on panel painting by Filippo Lippi, now in the Uffizi in Florence. A sacra conversazione, it originally had a predella painted by Pesellino centred on a Nativity. The main panel shows Cosmas and Damian either side of the Madonna and Child, whilst Francis of Assisi is shown at far left and Anthony of Padua at far right. On an architectural frieze above the figures are the Medici's heraldic balls.
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