- Reredos (retables, retabels) appeared about the 13th century. They were first made of stone, then of wood, which was the material employed during the 14th to the 16th centuries, the period when reredos of exquisite craftsmanship were made.Constituting a veritable three-dimensional painting, reredos generally depicted liturgical themes, most especially scenes from the life and death of Jesus Christ, Mary, and the saints. In Brussels, the production of reredos was strongly influenced by the work of the Master of Hakendoven and Rogier van der Weyden. From the second half of the 15th century, a distinctive style emerged, one characterized by sumptuously draped figures whose features displayed a pronounced pathos. From 1490 to 1530 the Borreman family developed a unique style reflective of the above characteristics.Reredos entailed the work of carpenters, sculptors, gilders, and painters in their production, and each guild noted its contribution with a distinctive mark on the finished work. In Brussels, these included an open compass enclosing a plane for the carpenters, a mallet for the sculptors, and the word "Bruesel" for the gilders and painters.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.