The story appears on

Page A4

June 12, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro

Portrait from the past stirs memories of childhood

CHEN Xinlin gazed at the portrait of his grandfather in a photo taken by a Jewish photographer in Shanghai from the 1920s to the 1950s.

"I am quite familiar with the photo because a similar oil painting of my grandfather had been hung in my room throughout childhood," said 64-year-old Chen.

More than 10 people, including Chen's grandfather, have been identified from pictures taken by Sam Sanzetti, the photographer, after months of research.

The 10 feature in some of the more than 200 photos, most having been taken between 1922 and 1957, to which the Israeli consulate in Shanghai are trying to attach names.

The consulate yesterday began exhibiting 100 of the photos at Meilun Building at 171 Nanjing Road E. where Sanzetti opened his studio half a century ago. The free exhibition will run until the end of July.

A friend of Chen's saw some of the photographs of his grandfather posted on the Internet by the consulate late last year and asked Chen to check them out.

"I could hardly recall the image of my grandfather, but the old oil painting helped me recognize him immediately," Chen said.

The painting was also done by Sanzetti. Chen's grandfather liked the photo so much that he went to his studio to ask him to make a similar but larger painting for him, Chen said.

The painting got lost in the 1960s, but Chen has now received a copy of the photograph from the consulate.

His grandfather, Chen Baochu, was about 40 years old when Sanzetti took the photo. He lived in Nantong in neighboring Jiangsu Province but often stayed in Shanghai as he was board chairman of a cotton mill in the city, Chen said.

His home was not far from Sanzetti's studio.

"Most of the 10 people we identified are still alive. Some of them have moved to the United States and many others remain in Shanghai," said Chen Yuan, a press officer at the consulate.

Their children or they themselves saw the pictures in the media and contacted the consulate, Chen said.

The photos, both monochrome and color, feature people of all ages. Most are Shanghainese, including young couples, businessmen and mothers with children.

Sanzetti, said to be one of the best photographers in China at the time, had four studios in 1922, including a flagship studio on the old Nanjing Road dedicated to portraits of city people. He ran the studio until 1957 when he returned to Israel.

Sanzetti's Shanghai portraits were rediscovered after his death in 1986. His stepson, who lives in Israel, has asked for help identifying his subjects and finding their children so copies can be presented to them.

Sanzetti married a Chinese woman and had a stepdaughter when he was in the city.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend