Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A work consisting of four or more painted or carved panels that are hinged together.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a work consisting of multiple painted or carved panels joined together, often with hinges

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A combination of panels or frames, more than three in number, for receiving paintings on one or both sides of every leaf. Compare diptych and triptych. Maskell, Russian Art, S. K. M. Handbook.

Etymologies

From Late Latin polyptycha, registers, account books, from Greek poluptukha, from neuter pl. of poluptukhos, having many folds : polu-, poly- + ptukhē, fold; see diptych.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek πολύπτυχος ("with many folds"), from πολύς ("many") + πτυχή ("a fold"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Originally from the Scuola del Cristo at the Giudecca, the polyptych is composed of five panels, the central one of which is of St James the Greater with St John the Evangelist and St Filippo Benizzi one of the saints of the Order of Servites on the left, and St. Michael the Archangel and St. Louis of Toulouse on the right.

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • Bentsen went into the encounter with Quayle armed with a devastating rhetorical polyptych: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy.

    No Excuses

  • The city merits at least half a day -- a morning, to be sure of finding open the National Gallery of Umbria, just restored and rehung, with its magnificent Piero della Francesca polyptych, also just restored.

    Green-Hearted Italy

  • A central panel with two wings is a triptych; an altarpiece with one central panel and several side panels or wings is a polyptych.

    A Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art

  • Bouts, nor to halt a while at Ghent to admire the polyptych of the

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 4: Clandestinity-Diocesan Chancery

  • Between the two tablets others were sometimes inserted and the diptych would then be called a triptych, polyptych, etc.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 5: Diocese-Fathers of Mercy

  • Its estates of Issy and of Celle-St-Cloud were vast possessions, and the polyptych (record of the monastic possessions), drawn up at the beginning of the ninth century under the direction of Abbot Irminon, shows how these estates, which extended into Indre and Normandy, were administered and cultivated.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 11: New Mexico-Philip

  • The polyptych of St. Victor, compiled in 814, the large chartulary, or collection of charters (end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century), and the small chartulary (middle of the thirteen century) edited by M. Guérard, and containing documents from 683 to 1336, enable the reader to grasp the important economic rôle of this great abbey in the Middle Ages.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 9: Laprade-Mass Liturgy

  • Monastery, and perhaps the polyptych at Legnano is even more important than either of them, so sumptuous is it in its colouring and so exquisite in its religious feeling.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 9: Laprade-Mass Liturgy

  • His chief authenticated work is a large polyptych in the Church of Santo Stefano at Siena.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 15: Tournely-Zwirner

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