Different types of altarpiece

Experiments with the format of altarpieces led to the creation of many different types:

Pala altarpiece


A single, unified, large framed panel. The pala involved changes in both the altarpiece's construction and pictorial element. Here emphasis was placed on the painted image.

Diptych altarpiece


A two panelled altarpiece. These were often portable and for private devotional use.

Triptych altarpiece


A three-panel altarpiece, often with folding wings that may be shut to cover the central panel for ceremonial purposes. The Walker's Altarpiece is a triptych.


A horizontal panel. Often composed of several panels joined together.

Polyptych altarpiece


An elaborate structure that encompasses several individual vertical compartments. This multi-tiered design usually incorporates a predella.

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