A recess for the reception of a statue, to give it emphasis, frame it effectively and afford protection; one of the cbief characteristics of Gothic architecture.
Sculpture was introduced in the Romanesque period, but the frame was little more than the flanking shaft supporting an arch.
The Gothic builders realized that sculpture to be architectural must be incorporated with the building.
This was done by the canopied niche which also protected the statue and produced a rich composition of line, light, and shade.
The wall was recessed and a pedestal added.
In the 14th and 15th centuries the canopy was elaborately decorated.
New Catholic Dictionary