Triptyques de Ternant – Ternant, France - Atlas Obscura

Triptyques de Ternant

Ternant, France

A small village church is home to two extraordinary triptych altarpieces that date back to the 15th century. 


The small village of Ternant in central France is home to two remarkable pieces of artwork: triptych altarpieces, with three panels of painting and relief connected with hinges so they can be opened and closed. Both can be found in the Church of Saint-Roch and date back to the 15th century. Both are carved in wood, painted, and gilded. And in both cases, the aristocrat who commissioned the piece also gave himself and his wife a place in the paintings.

The smaller of the two was commissioned by the Baron Philippe de Ternant, Chevalier de la Toison d’Or, and chamberlain of Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, together with his wife Isabeau de Roye. While the centerpiece depicts the Virgin Mary, the shutters on the end show the two donors. On the left, Philippe is wearing a checked pattern, the coat of arms of Ternant. He is kneeling together with John the Baptist. On the right, Isabeau, in ceremonial costume, is kneeling with Saint Catherine of Alexandria. This piece was made between 1444 and 1454 in Flanders.

The larger triptych was commissioned by Charles de Ternat, Philippe’s son. It is dedicated to the Passion and Glorification of Christ. In the center piece, you can see Charles and his wife Jeanne. This triptych was made 1460 in Brabant.

The church that houses these pieces of art was built in 1820 with materials from the demolition of the old church, which had been built around 1444. Besides the two triptychs, the church has beautiful little stained glass windows and inside you can find very realistic statues.

Know Before You Go

From May 15 to September 30, the church is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. From October 1 to May 14, the church is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visiting is free.

If you want the triptychs to be lighted, you need to bring a 2-Euro piece. There is a machine where you can donate to light the triptychs and choose an audio explanation, which is available in several languages.

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May 11, 2022

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