Encyclopedia > Altarpiece

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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. It is then called a diptych, triptych[?] or polyptych[?]. Groups of statuary can also be placed on the altar. Sometimes the altarpiece is set on the altar itself.

If the altar stands free in the choir, both sides of the altar-piece can be covered with painting. The screen, retable[?] or reredos[?] are also commonly decorated.

A famous example is the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) by Hubert and Jan van Eyck.

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