altarpiece definition

An altarpiece may refer to a number of carved or painted panels, a structure featuring a carving or painting, a single painting, or an ornate screen that is positioned behind, on top of, or on an altar.  A traditional Renaissance altarpiece features a number of religious paintings on panels that are hinged together (such as a triptych), and contain frames that may be decorated with jewels, gilded or carved.  The Spanish word "retablo," the French word "retable," the English word "reredos," and the Italian word "ancona" are all words used as synonyms for the word "altarpiece."