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retable

[ri-tey-buh l, ree-tey-] /rɪˈteɪ bəl, ˈriˌteɪ-/
noun
1.
a decorative structure raised above an altar at the back, often forming a frame for a picture, bas-relief, or the like, and sometimes including a shelf or shelves, as for ornaments.
Origin
1815-1825
1815-25; < French, equivalent to Old French re(re) at the back (< Latin retrō) + table table; compare Medieval Latin retrōtabulum
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for retable

retable

/rɪˈteɪbəl/
noun
1.
an ornamental screenlike structure above and behind an altar, esp one used as a setting for a religious picture or carving
Word Origin
C19: from French, from Spanish retablo, from Latin retrō behind + tabula board; see rear1, table
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for retable

ornamental panel behind an altar and, in the more limited sense, the shelf behind an altar on which are placed the crucifix, candlesticks, and other liturgical objects. The panel is usually made of wood or stone, though sometimes of metal, and is decorated with paintings, statues, or mosaics depicting the Crucifixion or a similar subject. Although frequently forming part of the architectural structure of the church, especially in the High Gothic period, retables can be detached and, sometimes, as in the case of the famous retable by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, "The Adoration of the Lamb" (1432; also known as the "Ghent Altarpiece," Cathedral of Saint-Bavon, Ghent [see ]), consist merely of a painting. Probably the most well-known retable is that in the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice, which is one of the most remarkable examples in existence of the craft of the jeweler and goldsmith. Originally commissioned in 976, the St. Mark's retable was enlarged and enriched in the 13th century. With the development of freestanding altars, retables have become extinct in contemporary church architecture. See also altarpiece.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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9
11
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