Three is important in Christian numerology as the number of persons in the Trinity, so, it is easy to understand why altar decoration, at least from the Middle Ages onward, often took the form of three-paneled paintings called triptychs. Practical considerations played a role in the development of these altarpieces. Like the ancient Roman writing tablets of the same name (derived from the Greek word for three-fold, triptychos), the two side pieces of a triptych can be hinged to the central panel, then, closed like doors to protect the holy images and make transport easier. The distinctive form influenced the content of triptychs. The two side images were usually subordinate to the dominant central panel, reflecting and developing its theme.
I followed this approach in two three-fold panels, painted in acrylic on cardboard. The Salvation Story altarpiece presents the Crucifixion of Christ with images to the left of the Incarnation, showing the Annunciation and the Nativity, and to the right, of the Resurrection, depicting the two women visiting the empty tomb on Easter morning. In the Christology altarpiece, the left panels, flanking the central portrait, symbolize Christ as the True Vine (below) and the Alpha and Omega (above), first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. To the right, you see the Chi-Ro symbol (below), formed from the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, and, the sign of the fish (above). The Greek word for fish (ichthys) is an acronym for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.