There are two common meanings of the word "reredos". In general architecture, the word can mean the back of an open hearth of a fireplace or a screen placed behind a table.

In more common religious usage, a reredos (also spelled raredos) is a screen or decoration behind the altar in a church, usually depicting religious iconography or images. It can be made of stone, wood, metal, ivory, or a combination of materials. The images may be painted, carved, gilded, composed of mosaics, and/or embedded with niches for statues. Sometimes a tapestry is used, or other fabric such as silk or velvet.

The term is derived from the a Middle English term which is derived from an Anglo-Norman 14th century term "areredos", from "arere" behind +"dos" back, from Latin "dorsum". In French and sometimes in English, this is called a retable (in Spain a "retablo" etc).

The usage of the term, and distinction with retable, in English (especially Anglican usage) differs from that in other languages. Many English "reredoses" would be called "retables" elsewhere.Fact|date=July 2007

The retable may have become part of the reredos when an altar was moved away from the wall. For altars that are still against the wall, the retable often sits on top of the altar, at the back, particularly when there is no reredos (a dossal curtain or something similar is used instead). The retable is also where the altar cross, flowers and "office light" type candlesticks sit.

Although the term dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, it was nearly obsolete until revived in the 19th century.

ee also

* Altarpiece
* Retablo

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Reredos —    Reredos (retables, retabels) appeared about the 13th century. They were first made of stone, then of wood, which was the material employed during the 14th to the 16th centuries, the period when reredos of exquisite craftsmanship were made.… …   Historical Dictionary of Brussels

  • Reredos — Rere dos (r?r d?s), n. [From rear + F. dos back, L. dorsum. Cf. {Dorsal}.] (Arch.) (a) A screen or partition wall behind an altar. (b) The back of a fireplace. (c) The open hearth, upon which fires were lighted, immediately under the louver, in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • reredos — late 14c., from Anglo Fr. rere , archaic comb. form of REAR (Cf. rear), + dos back (see DOSSIER (Cf. dossier)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • reredos — rèredos m DEFINICIJA crkv. umj. arhitektonski ili umjetnički ukras uza zid iza oltara (slike ili simboli na zidu, drvene ploče sa slikama) ETIMOLOGIJA fr …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • reredos — ► NOUN (pl. same) ▪ an ornamental screen at the back of an altar in a church. ORIGIN Old French areredos, from arere behind + dos back …   English terms dictionary

  • reredos — [rir′däs΄] n. [ME rerdos, aphetic < Anglo Fr areredos < OFr arere (see ARREARS) + dos, back (see DOSSER1)] an ornamental screen or partition wall behind an altar in a church …   English World dictionary

  • reredos — noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French reredors, areredos, from arere behind + dos back, from Latin dorsum more at arrear Date: 14th century a usually ornamental wood or stone screen or partition wall behind an altar …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • reredos — /rear dos, rear i , rair i /, n. 1. a screen or a decorated part of the wall behind an altar in a church. 2. the back of a fireplace or of a medieval open hearth. [1325 75; ME, alter. of AF areredos, equiv. to MF arere behind (see ARREAR) + dos… …   Universalium

  • reredos — noun /ˈɹiɹ.dɒs/ a screen or decoration behind the altar in a church, usually depicting religious iconography or images …   Wiktionary

  • REREDOS —    the name given to the decorated portion of the wall or screen behind and rising above a church altar; as a rule it is richly ornamented with niches and figures, and stands out from the east wall of the church, but not unfrequently it is joined …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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