PolyptychAn altarpiece which consists of a number of panels is called a polyptych, 'poly' meaning many in Greek. In the most popular form the main tier would consist of a central panel containing the figure of a saint or, more often, the Virgin and Child, and the side panels would contain figures of single or paired saints. Other, smaller panels might contain half-length figures of saints ranged above the main tier. The whole structure would be mounted on a predella, made up of small rectangular panels often with narrative scenes.
Most polyptychs have been dismembered and the surviving panels distributed between several museums and galleries.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN