(2,825 words)

1. Concept and significance of the altarpiece

The Modern-Period altarpiece, like its medieval counterpart, is a pictorial representation installed above an altar. Its subject matter refers to the altar’s donor, its patron saint (dedicatory title), or the liturgy celebrated before it. Besides altarpieces of wood or canvas, more rarely copper or stone, wall-mounted pain…

Cite this page
Ramisch, Hans, “Altarpiece”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 19 February 2019 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

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