from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
High altar retable, San Francisquito, Campeche , Mexico
Altar with modern reredos in St. Stephen's Church in Mindelheim

As an altar retable (the reredos , from Latin retabulum , meaning "back panel", also pala ) is any altar piece - in German usage often simply equated with an altar - that is, a display wall that is either directly on the cafeteria of an altar with or without Predella is placed on a separate substructure behind the altar table or attached to the wall behind the altar. There are also altarpieces painted on the choir wall, see below. In occidental art history, an altar shrine is the central section of a carved retable that opens up like a cupboard. The counterpart to the reredos is the antependium , which, according to the name, was attached to the front edge of the cafeteria and hung in front of the altar table at the celebrant's leg. This form of altar design appeared in the Middle Ages .


The Romanesque altarpiece, as well as the antemensale , made of stone, stucco or metal, is decorated with reliefs . If it is made of wood, it is often decorated with gold leaf fittings or paintings. Its outline is rectangular, semicircular or rectangular with a semicircular elevation in the middle.

In the Gothic period , the retable was expanded with painted panels ( winged altar ). Occasionally, individual scenes were surrounded by additional architectural frames consisting of pillars , eyelashes and pinnacles . A construction made of architectural elements with set figures above the cabinet is called a burst . The largest Gothic altarpiece (27 mx 18 m) is in Seville Cathedral . Centers for the production of late Gothic retables are z. B. Lübeck and Antwerp .

In the Renaissance and Baroque periods , the reredos standing behind the altar became common, with wings mostly being dispensed with and only the central image (also known as the altar leaf) remaining. Its architectural framework consists of an aedicule (aedicule altar), with which the architecture of the choir and the entire church space merges into a stylistic and compositional unit.

Known copies


Web links

Commons : Altarpiece  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Altarretabel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. This meaning of the term “shrine” should not be confused with the meaning of “shrine” in the sense of “reliquary”. The designation as a shrine for the middle part of a carved altar does not refer to a possible safekeeping of relics, but the word "shrine" here refers to the timbered wooden box - cf. Friedrich Kobler: Flügelretabel. I. In: Real Lexicon on German Art History . Volume 9: ridge crowning - wing retable . Munich 2003, Sp. 1450-1536, especially Sp. 1450.