Niche (architecture)

Niche (architecture)
Niches containing statues on exterior of Church of Orsanmichele, Florence, c.1380-1404
Florentine Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi placed his Madonna of the 1440s within a simulated shell-headed niche
Niche on exterior of Uffizi Palace, Florence(c.1560-81), containing statue of Farinata degli Uberti(d.1264)

A niche 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 exedras; 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,[1] 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 ("aedicule"), 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 1380-1404. 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 9 exterior niches containing statues of the Nine Worthies. In Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna (illustration, right) 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.

See also


  1. ^ OED, "Niche"
  • Sir John Summerson, 1948. in Heavenly Mansions. Discussion of the Gothic aedicule.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Niche (architecture) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Niche. Le peintre Filippo Lippi de la Renaissance italienne a placé sa Madonne du quattrocento à l intérieur d un …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Niche — (UK /ˈniːʃ/ or US …   Wikipedia

  • Niche De Mitoyenneté — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Niche. Picquigny (Somme) Une niche de mitoyenne …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Niche de mitoyennete — Niche de mitoyenneté Pour les articles homonymes, voir Niche. Picquigny (Somme) Une niche de mitoyenne …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Niche — • A recess for the reception of a statue, so designed as to give it emphasis, frame it effectively, and afford some measure of protection. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Niche     Niche …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • niche — 1. (ni ch ) s. f. 1°   Enfoncement pratiqué dans l épaisseur de quelque corps solide, pour y placer quelque chose, une statue, un vase, etc. Mettre une statue dans une niche. Le choeur de cette église est orné de saints placés dans des niches.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Architecture of Portugal — refers to the architecture practised in the territory of present day Portugal since before the foundation of the country, in the 12th century. The term may also refer to buildings created under Portuguese influence or by Portuguese architects… …   Wikipedia

  • Architecture Islamique — Histoire de l art Série Arts de l Islam Périodes Art omeyyade Art abbasside Art fatimide Iran autonome …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Architecture et Patrimoine du ban d'Olne — L Architecture et le patrimoine du ban d Olne et de Saint Hadelin et sa micro histoire montre une architecture homogène des deux villages de cette commune du Pays de Herve, établis sur un socle dinantien , et qui présente un bâti ancien en… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Niche de mitoyenneté — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Niche. Picquigny (Somme) Une niche de mitoyenneté est une petite niche (cavité) dans l épaisseur d un mu …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”