Fireplace mantels (or sometimes referred to as mantelpieces) have been a feature of our homes since medieval times. Initially serving a purely functional purpose of catching the smoke from a fireplace, fireplace mantels quickly became works of art capable of defining an architectural space.
Many of the world's greatest sculptors and artists used their skills to design and create magnificent fireplace mantels of marble, limestone, granite or fine wood. The craftsmanship of these mantelpieces is extraordinary and many are on display in museums around the globe.
The fireplace mantel pictured above is a carved marble mantelpiece from the Villa Capra "La Rotonda" in Vicenza, Italy. This magnificent Renaissance villa was completed in 1591. It is widely considered one of the most influential pieces of architecture of the past 500 years and was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio.
This fireplace mantel is a wonderful example of the potential for fireplace mantels to be magnificent works of art.