An altarpiece is a picture or
reliefrepresenting a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altarof 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, triptychor polyptychfor 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, retableor reredosare also commonly decorated.
Famous examples are
Pala d'Oroin the Basilica di San Marco, Venice
Ghent Altarpiece(1432) by Hubert and Jan van Eyck
Isenheim Altarpieceby Matthias Grünewald
Altar of Veit Stoss
* [http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/a/altarpiece.html ArtLex: altarpiece or altar-piece]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.