Master of Frankfurt, Sagrada Familia con ángel músico, Santa Catalina de Alejandría, Santa Bárbara, 1510–1520, Museo del Prado, Madrid. With the 2008 acquisition of the Holy Family (the central piece, formerly at the convento dominico de Santa Cruz in Segovia) the Prado completed the triptych by the Master of Frankfurt, separated since 1836.

A triptych ( ; from the Greek adjective τρίπτυχον ("three-fold"), from tri, i.e., "three" and ptysso, i.e., "to fold" or ptyx, i.e., "fold")[1][2] is a work of art (usually a panel painting) that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works. The middle panel is typically the largest and it is flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels. The form can also be used for pendant jewelry.


  • In art 1
  • In photography 2
  • Examples 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

In art

The Verdun Altar in Klosterneuburg Monastery
Video about the Norfolk Triptych (anonymous, 1415–1420), an early Dutch triptych at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

The triptych form arises from early Christian art, and was a popular standard format for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onwards. Its geographical range was from the eastern Byzantine churches to the Celtic churches in the west. Renaissance painters such as Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch used the form. Sculptors also used it. Triptych forms also allow ease of transport.

From the Gothic period onward, both in Europe and elsewhere, altarpieces in churches and cathedrals 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 another example of the use of triptych in architecture. One can also see the form echoed by the structure of many ecclesiastical stained glass windows. Although strongly identified as an altarpiece form, triptychs outside that context have been created, some of the best-known examples being works by Hieronymus Bosch, Max Beckmann, and Francis Bacon.

The highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction was $142.4 million for a 1969 triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, by Francis Bacon.[3]

In photography

Modern photographic triptych

A photographic triptych is a common style used in modern commercial artwork. The photographs are usually arranged with a plain border between them. The work may consist of separate images that are variants on a theme, or may be one larger image split into three.[4][5]


See also


  1. ^ "triptych".  
  2. ^ τρίπτυχον. Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  3. ^ Vogel, Carol (November 12, 2013). "Bacon's Study of Freud Sells for $142.4 Million". New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Photo Answers Magazine 9 April 2009, Michael Topham
  5. ^ Digital Photography School: Diptychs & Triptychs – 5 Prime Examples Elizabeth Halford

External links

  • A Triptych at the Met
  • On the triptych as a writing instrument
  • Example of triptych features and restoration