Painting, relief, sculpture, screen, or decorated wall standing on or behind an altar in a Christian church. The images depict holy personages, saints, and biblical subjects. There are two types of altarpieces: the reredos, which rises from the floor behind the altar, and the retable, which stands on the altar itself or on a pedestal behind it. The diptych is an altarpiece consisting of two panels; a triptych, three panels; and a polyptych, four or more panels. Altarpieces vary in size; some are small and portable, some are huge and stationary, and some have movable wings that can be opened and closed. The practice of erecting sculptural altarpieces dates from the 11th century; altar paintings became common in the 14th century.
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An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two, three, and multiple panels respectively. Groups of statuary can also be placed on the altar. Sometimes the altarpiece is set on the altar itself.
Famous examples are
A passion altarpiece restored: a remarkable 15th-century Netherlandish altarpiece acquired by the 15th Duke of Norfolk in 1886 has gone on show at Arundel Castle, following a restoration that has revealed its original painted decoration. Kim Woods reviews the information about its history that has come to light and discusses its place of origin and maker.(Critical essay)
Jun 01, 2006; Among the treasures at Arundel Castle now displayed to the public for the first time is a 15th-century Netherlandish carved...