- Glossary definition: Polyptych

An altarpiece that has been done on two or more separate panels. A diptych is two panels; a triptych is three panels; a pentaptych is five panels; but most altarpieces done in three panels or more are called polyptych. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Italian polyptychs generally consisted of a large central panel with an image of the Madonna. The central panel was most often flanked by two panels that showed Saints, with possibly an Annunciation scene on another panel.