Thanks to Colonial Williamsburg, I was able to research 18th century fireboards (alternately also called chimneyboards) in the archives. Since our house is a historically accurate recreation of an 18th century Central Virginia plantation house, we want the fireboards to have historically appropriate scenes.
How are they used? Colonial fireplaces did not have dampers to close off the flue as modern fireplaces have. The only way to prevent dirt, birds, bats, and critters from coming down the flue and into the room was to close off the firebox opening. Fireplaces, except in the kitchen, were not used during warm months so it was beneficial to close off the opening. That accomplished two things: 1) prevented anything getting into the room; and 2) covered up the soot covered firebox with a lovely scene.
I ended up with more subject matter than I needed (landscapes, flowers, wallpaper) but did decide to paint a landscape for the parlor board and a vase of tulips for the dining room board. The scenes will be painted on canvas, which will then be glued to a board supported by a wood frame.
I am no artist, more of a draftsperson, so I need to find pictures of tulips I can copy or adapt; that search has not started. The landscape will be of Gracefield Hall if I can take a photo at the perspective I need. I will be working on getting that photo today.