In architecture, an ornamental recess (concavity) in the thickness of a wall, especially for the display of a statue, bust, vase, or other erect ornament. Anything literally or figuratively resembling a niche. A niche is sometimes terminated by a cartouche, but more commonly by a canopy, and with a bracket or corbel for the figure, in which case it might be called a tabernacle. "Niche" is originally a French word. It was derived from Italian nicchio, meaning a shellfish or mussel, because many niches are more or less shell-like in form.(pr. nitch or neesh)Examples:Iran, Mihrab from the Madrasa Imami in Isfahan, 755 AH / c. 1354 CE, mosaic of monochrome-glaze tiles on composite body set on plaster, 11 feet 3 inches x 7 feet 6 inches (343.1 x 288.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. In Islamic tradition, a large niche called a mihrab is the most important element inside of every mosque. It indicates the direction of Mecca.Michelangelo (born Michelangiolo Buonarroti) (Italian, 1475-1564), Tomb of Giuliano de'Medici, 1526-1534, marble, San Lorenzo, Cappella Medicea, Florence. In the niche is the statue of Giuliano Duke of Nemours who died in 1561. Below this, reclining on Giuliano's sarcophagus, are sculpture of Night (Notte) and Day (Giorno). See Renaissance.Jacques de Gheyn the Elder (Dutch, 1565-1629), Vanitas Still Life, 1603, oil on wood panel, 32 1/2 x 21 1/4 inches (82.6 x 54 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Dutch art, still life, and vanitas.Gianlorenzo Bernini (Italian, 1598-1680), Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) (see two much closer and larger views: at night and at day), 1629-1762, Rome. This is the largest, most ambitious, and most famous of the great Baroque fountains of Rome. The allegorical theme of this sculptural ensemble is the taming of the waters. Tumbling about, water and stonework appear as a lively stage set, turning the small square that surrounds it into something like a theater. The fountain is set against the back of the Palazzo Poli, which was given a new facade of Corinthian columns that link the two main stories, and flank a triumphant arch with a large niche representing the palace of Neptune. In the central niche is Neptune, the sea god, riding a winged chariot guided by tritons through the gushing waters. Pope Urban VIII asked Bernini to design the fountain in 1629. Work on it was interrupted by the pope's death, but it was completed in 1762. It is called the Trevi because its position at the intersection of three streets -- tre vie. It is a frequently cited legend that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, your return to Rome is guaranteed.Related link: The Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture defines and illustrates "niche." Also see apse, arch, balcony, base, chapel, concave, diorama, dot, frame, pedestal, placement, plinth, Romanesque, shadow box, shaft grave, socle, and vitrine.