Triptych & Diptych: What are they?

Triptych or the Diptych are my favourite formats to paint on and consequently I'm often asked what exactly they are and why I enjoy using them? So, to answer this I present this brief outline which I hope answers any questions.

14th Century Triptych by Bernardo Daddi (active c.1320-1348)
A triptych or Diptych (as in the triptych above) is a work of art (usually a panel painting or alter piece) divided into two or three sections, or carved panels which are hinged together and folded. They are therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works.

Hieronymus Bosch (1495-1515)
 The middle panel in a triptych (as with the wonderful Hieronymus Bosch above) is typically the largest and it is flanked by two smaller related works, although this is by no means sacrosanct as most triptychs (especially in thew modern era) are of equal-sized panels.

 Triptych 1973  Francis Bacon (28 October 1909 – 28 April 1992)
  A famous example (above) of the modern triptych as perfected by Francis Bacon. As with my own work he usually created panels of equal size although with the diptych 'Serengeti Solitude' (below) I felt the painting worked more effectively with a more dominant right panel.

Below are some examples of my own work in both formats. As with many modern painters I prefer to use the format to represent one image across the canvases as opposed to a separte representation on each panel.

'Inferno' Shirley Shelton (Triptych-Acrylic on Box Canvas 91x30cm 2007)

'Wheels'' Shirley Shelton (Diptych-Acrylic & Pastle on Box Canvas 91x61cm 2007)

'Golden Savanna' Shirley Shelton (Triptych-Acyclic on Canvas 183x76cm 2009)

'Serengeti Solitude' Shirley Shelton (Acyclic on Canvas 92x61cm 2009)

So why do I like like painting in this format?
I think it's because it offers far greater possibilities in what I can create & express within a painting. Sure,they look cool when they're hanging in a room and yes, many people like them precisely because they are different and that's great.

But for me it's the satisfaction I get when I complete a large three piece canvas. When I stand back and appreciate how the different elements weave together. Like the strands of a story becoming a coherent whole. That really is job satisfaction!

'Dimensions' Shirley Shelton (Triptych-Acrylic on Box Canvas 122x51cm 2007)