AskDefine | Define triptych

Dictionary Definition

triptych n : art consisting of a painting or carving (especially an altarpiece) on three panels (usually hinged together)

User Contributed Dictionary



Greek tri- "three" + ptyche "fold".


  1. A picture or series of pictures painted on three tablets connected by hinges.
  1. A set of three se-tenant postage stamps that form a composite picture.

Related terms

Extensive Definition

A triptych (pronounced "trip-tick" (or US: [ 'tɹʷɪp.dɪk ]) from the Greek τρίπτυχο [ tri'ptu.xo ] 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 and folded. The middle panel is the larger one and is flanked by two smaller, but related, works. 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.
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 whose triptych don't always hinge.

See also

triptych in Breton: Teirzaolenn
triptych in Bulgarian: Триптих
triptych in German: Triptychon (Gemälde)
triptych in Esperanto: Triptiko
triptych in Persian: سه‌لتی
triptych in French: Triptyque
triptych in Italian: Trittico
triptych in Hebrew: טריפטיכון
triptych in Hungarian: Triptichon
triptych in Japanese: 祭壇画
triptych in Georgian: ტრიპტიქი
triptych in Latvian: Triptihs
triptych in Luxembourgish: Triptychon
triptych in Dutch: Triptiek
triptych in Norwegian: Triptyk
triptych in Polish: Tryptyk
triptych in Portuguese: Tríptico
triptych in Russian: Триптих
triptych in Finnish: Triptyykki
triptych in Swedish: Triptyk
triptych in Thai: บานพับภาพ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Domesday Book, abstract, abstraction, account book, address book, adversaria, album, altarpiece, annual, appointment calendar, appointment schedule, blankbook, block print, blotter, calendar, cashbook, catalog, classified catalog, clover, collage, color print, commonplace book, copy, court calendar, cyclorama, daub, daybook, desk calendar, deuce-ace, diary, diptych, docket, engagement book, engraving, fresco, icon, illumination, illustration, image, journal, leash, ledger, likeness, log, logbook, loose-leaf notebook, memo book, memorandum book, memory book, miniature, montage, mosaic, mural, notebook, pad, panorama, petty cashbook, photograph, picture, pocket notebook, pocketbook, police blotter, print, representation, reproduction, scrapbook, scratch pad, set of three, shamrock, spiral notebook, stained glass window, stencil, still life, table, tableau, tablet, tapestry, tercet, ternary, ternion, terzetto, three, threesome, tierce, trefoil, trey, triad, trialogue, triangle, tricorn, trident, triennium, trihedron, trilogy, trimester, trine, trinity, trinomial, trio, triphthong, triple crown, triple threat, triplet, triplopy, tripod, trireme, triseme, triskelion, trisul, triumvirate, triunity, trivet, troika, wall painting, workbook, writing tablet, yearbook
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