AskDefine | Define altarpiece

Dictionary Definition

altarpiece n : a painted or carved screen placed above and behind an altar or communion table [syn: reredos]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a work of art suspended above and behind an altar in a church

Extensive Definition

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.
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.
altarpiece in Russian: Алтарная картина
altarpiece in Catalan: Retaule
altarpiece in German: Altarretabel
altarpiece in Spanish: Retablo
altarpiece in Esperanto: Retablo
altarpiece in French: Retable
altarpiece in Italian: Retablo
altarpiece in Japanese: アルターピース
altarpiece in Luxembourgish: Retabel
altarpiece in Dutch: Altaarstuk
altarpiece in Norwegian: Alterskap
altarpiece in Polish: Nastawa ołtarzowa
altarpiece in Portuguese: Retábulo
altarpiece in Simple English: Altarpiece
altarpiece in Swedish: Altartavla

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Communion table, abstract, abstraction, altar, altar carpet, altar desk, altar facing, altar of prothesis, altar rail, altar side, altar slab, altar stair, altar stone, ancona, block print, bomos, chancel table, collage, color print, copy, credence, cyclorama, daub, diptych, engraving, eschara, fresco, frontal, gradin, hestia, holy table, icon, illumination, illustration, image, likeness, mensal, miniature, missal stand, montage, mosaic, mural, panorama, photograph, picture, predella, print, prothesis, representation, reproduction, retable, retablo, rood altar, scrobis, stained glass window, stencil, still life, superaltar, tableau, tapestry, triptych, wall painting
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