A polyptych (from the Greek "polu-" "many" + "ptychē" "fold") generally refers to a painting (usually panel painting) which is divided into four or more sections, or panels. (The term diptych is used to describe a two-part painting and the term triptych describes a three-part painting. The terms tetraptych (4 parts), pentaptych (5), hexaptych (6), heptaptych (7), and octaptych (8) are also sometimes used.)

Polyptych may also be used to refer collectively to all multi-panel paintings. In most works there is a larger central panel called the "main panel", and the other panels are called "side-panels", and also "wings". Sometimes, as at Ghent or Isenheim, the hinged panels can be arranged in different ways to show different "views" or "openings."

Polyptychs were most common with early Renaissance painters, and the majority of polyptychs were designed to be altarpieces in churches and cathedrals. The form was also quite popular among ukiyo-e printmakers of Edo period Japan.

Examples of polyptychs include:

* The Ghent Altarpiece, completed 1432 by Hubert van Eyck and Jan van Eyck - probably the most famous polyptych
* The Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald
* The Saint Vincent Panels (1470-1480) by Nuno Gonçalves
* Polyptych of the Misericordia (1445–1462) by Piero della Francesca
* The Last Judgment Polyptych (1450) by Rogier van der Weyden
* Saint Augustine Polyptych (1470) by Perugino
* The Demidoff Altarpiece (1476), by Carlo Crivelli
* St. Dominic Polyptych (1506–08) by Lorenzo Lotto

In comic books and comic strips a polyptych is a strip, or even an entire comic page, in which the background forms a continuous image even though it may be divided into separate panels; a good example is The Perishers, which often uses polyptychs divided into three panels.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • polyptych — [päl′ip tik΄] n. [Gr polyptychos, having many folds < poly (see POLY ) + ptyx, a fold] a set of four or more panels with pictures, carvings, etc. often hinged for folding together, used as an altarpiece, etc …   English World dictionary

  • polyptych — ˈpälə̇pˌtik, pəˈlipt noun ( s) Etymology: Greek polyptychos with many folds, folded many times, from poly + ptychos (akin to Greek ptychē fold, layer) : an arrangement of four or more panels (as of a painting) usually hinged and folding together… …   Useful english dictionary

  • polyptych — noun Etymology: Greek polyptychos having many folds, from poly + ptychē fold, from ptyssein to fold Date: 1859 an arrangement of four or more panels (as of a painting) usually hinged and folding together …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • polyptych — /pol ip tik/, n. a work of art composed of several connected panels. Cf. diptych, pentaptych, triptych. [1855 60; special use of LL polyptychum < Gk polýptychon a register, roll, n. use of neut. of polýptychos having many folds. See POLY ,… …   Universalium

  • polyptych — noun A work consisting of multiple painted or carved panels joined together, often with hinges …   Wiktionary

  • Polyptych —    See Altarpiece …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • polyptych —    An altarpiece made up of more than three sections. (pr. pohl ip tik) …   Glossary of Art Terms

  • polyptych — [ pɒlɪptɪk] noun a painting, especially an altarpiece, consisting of more than three leaves or panels joined by hinges or folds. Origin C19: from late L. polyptycha (neut. plural) registers , from Gk poluptukhos having many folds …   English new terms dictionary

  • polyptych — po·lyp·tych …   English syllables

  • polyptych — pol•yp•tych [[t]ˈpɒl ɪp tɪk[/t]] n. fia a work of art composed of several connected panels • Etymology: 1855–60; poly + (di) ptych or (tri) ptych …   From formal English to slang

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