Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chine Appliqué

A chine appliqué print (also called a chine collé print) is a print where the image has been impressed onto a thin sheet of China paper (or other thin paper) and then that thin sheet is backed by a strong, thicker sheet of paper. These are fairly easy to spot: often the backing paper will age to a different color than the China paper, but even if not when you look closely at a chine appliqué print you can see the edge of the China sheet (usually just beyond the edge of the printed image).

Chine appliqué prints were made a fair bit in the nineteenth century for a number of different types of images. The reason this was done is because the thin China paper takes an intaglio impression more easily than a thicker sheet of paper, so that that chine appliqué often has a richer appearance than a standard print. This was sometimes done for proof prints (cf. blog on proof prints).

To this extent a chine appliqué print is often more desirable than a standard print, however there are several possible problems associated with these prints. First, the quality of the backing sheet is often not as good as that of a standard print, so this will sometimes discolor significantly more than the China paper, giving the print a somewhat distracting appearance. More importantly, however, is that a chine appliqué print is much more difficult to restore than a standard print. Any sort of immersion into water (which is often used in restoration) can lift the China paper off the backing and it is so thin that it can be difficult to reattach to the backing neatly. Chine appliqué prints can be restored, but only by a skilled conservator and there is definitely always the risk that the restoration will come out well. This doesn't mean one shouldn't buy a chine appliqué print with condition issues, but one must be aware of the risks.


  1. I have a print of a painting by the German artist Max Volkhart that I believe is titled "Hearts Win" - a scene of two men and two women playing cards while a whippet looks on. It has a sepia look and is printed on the thinnest of papers - looks like an onion skin type paper and is signed in the bottom left corner "Max Volkhart " followed by what appears to be "o.p. 125". I have seen this print dated 1894. Would this be a chine applique print and what is the significance of the "op 125"? Thank you for any information you can give me on this very charming print.

    1. I am sorry to say that I cannot really help with your questions. I doubt it is a chine applique print, for that has the image on a thin sheet of paper which is then mounted onto a stiffer sheet. Yours sounds like it is just on the thin paper, which was a style of print used by wood engravers in the late nineteenth century. As for teh "op125" I am sorry to say I do not know what this would mean. Sorry I cannot be of much help.

    2. Robert C. LittlewoodJune 3, 2022 at 3:45 PM

      I found a pic of this on-line, yes it would qualify as chine applique but it is actually printed badly ... that is to say there is something amiss with the materials used and the thinner paper has rippled ... maybe bad glue or there is some sort of tension between the two papers. op125 may mean Opus 125 suggesting the artist or the engraver's 125th image ... as for the number of prints exactly like yours ... there could be thousands ...