Retables, sometimes called 'dossals', are plain panels set above and at the back of the altar table in a church.

They were first painted in the second half of the 13th century, and evolved from antependia which were coverings, normally of highly decorated fabric, used to decorate the front of an altar. They generally consist of a long horizontal panel. Higher and more complex structures developed later. (Source: National Gallery (London).
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