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Alexander Nagel

An image-bearing structure set on the rear part of the altar (see Altar, §II), abutting the back of the altarblock, or set behind the altar in such a way as to be visually joined with the altar when viewed from a distance. It is also sometimes called a ...



Nigel J. Morgan

Two wood, ivory, or metal panels of equal size, usually hinged together so that they can be folded, and closed with some form of clasp. There are usually images on the inside surfaces of the panels and sometimes also on the outer sides. The panels are most commonly vertical rectangles; ...



Term for an Italian panel painting hung in front of or behind an altar.



Richard Temple

Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity (see fig.), the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI...


Jane Daggett Dillenberger

Subject of Christian art, popular from the 11th century to the 19th, in which a group of mourners is shown grieving over the death of Christ. The canonical gospels do not mention the lamenting over the dead Christ; it was the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus...


Name given to the 76 specially commissioned devotional paintings given, one each May, from 1630 to 1708 by the goldsmiths’ corporation of Paris to the cathedral of Notre-Dame (none was commissioned in 1683 or 1684). The paintings were approximately 3.50×2.75 m in size and usually drew their subjects from the Acts of the Apostles. The commissions were awarded to established artists or, occasionally, to younger painters, indicating their rising reputation. Until the ‘Mays’ were dispersed during the French Revolution they were hung on the arcades of the choir and nave of the cathedral. A number are untraced, but eight have been returned to the side chapels of Notre-Dame, including works by ...



Barbara Watts

Devotional image of the Virgin Mary mourning the dead Christ, who lies across her lap. Occasionally other figures, such as St John the Evangelist or Joseph of Arimathea, grieve with her. The Pietà was a popular devotional subject in European painting and sculpture from the 13th century to the end of the 17th....


Victor M. Schmidt

Type of object with several panels, usually an altarpiece, although it may also fulfil other functions. The polyptych normally consists of a central panel with an even number of side-panels, which are sometimes hinged to fold. Although in principle every object with two panels or more may be called a polyptych, the word is normally used as a general term for anything larger than a ...


Ronald Baxter

Term used for a horizontal band, cut from a single plank, below the main panels of an altarpiece (for a discussion of the technical aspects see Panel painting). The appearance of the predella can be seen as part of the development of the altarpiece from a single panel to a large, multi-storey ...


Nigel Gauk-Roger

Term applied to a type of religious painting, depicting the Virgin and Child flanked on either side by saints, which developed during the 15th and 16th centuries and is associated primarily with the Italian Renaissance. The specific characteristics of the genre are that the figures, who are of comparable physical dimensions, seem to co-exist within the same space and light, are aware of each other and share a common emotion. This relationship is conveyed, with greater or lesser emphasis, by gesture and expression. The compositions are usually frontal and centralized, and are distinguished by an aura of stillness and meditation....