Triptych  

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"Hell" detail from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1510)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A triptych (pronounced "trip-tick," from the Greek tri- "three" + ptychē "fold") is a work of art (usually a panel painting) which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together. The central panel is the most important one, and this is flanked on either side by two lesser but related paintings. The whole is intended to be greater than the sum of the parts.

The triptych form arises from early Christian art, and was the standard format for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onwards. Its geographical range was from the eastern Byzantine churches throughout to the English Celtic church in the west. Renaissance painters and sculptors such as Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch used the form.

Altarpieces in churches and cathedrals, both in Europe and elsewhere, since the Gothic period were often in triptych-form. One such cathedral with an altarpiece triptych is Llandaff Cathedral. The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium contains two examples by Rubens and Notre Dame de Paris is an example of the use of triptych in architecture. One can also see the form echoed by the structure of many ecclesiastical stained glass windows. The triptych form has since influenced contemporary painters and art photographers.

While the root of the word is the ancient Greek "triptychos", the word arose into the medieval period from the name for an Ancient Roman writing tablet, which had two hinged panels flanking a central one. The form can also be used for pendant jewelry.

In art

The triptych form arises from early Christian art, and was a popular standard format for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onwards. Its geographical range was from the eastern Byzantine churches to the English Celtic churches in the west. Renaissance painters and sculptors such as Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch used the form. Triptych forms also allow ease of transport.

From the Gothic period onward, both in Europe and elsewhere, altarpieces in churches and cathedrals were often in triptych form. One such cathedral with an altarpiece triptych is Llandaff Cathedral. The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, contains two examples by Rubens, and Notre Dame de Paris is another example of the use of triptych in architecture. One can also see the form echoed by the structure of many ecclesiastical stained glass windows. Although most famous as an altarpiece form, triptyches outside that context have been created, most prominently by Hieronymus Bosch, Max Beckmann, and Francis Bacon.

Examples

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Triptych" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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