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October 26, 2011

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Old pictures wait for their tale to be told

THE Israeli consulate in Shanghai is looking for people featured in more than 200 portraits taken by a Jewish photographer in the 1920s.

Sam 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 moved to Israel.

His 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.

The Israeli consulate yesterday began publishing the pictures on its microblog.

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

The photos include some foreign people. One picture was identified as a former US ambassador or consul from Beijing.

Oren Rozenblat, deputy consul general of Israel in Shanghai, said: "Our dream is that people will be able to identify them, maybe their grandparents, on these pictures."

He said some people may have lost pictures of their grandparents and this is an opportunity to find them again.

The consulate plans to hold an exhibition of the pictures to try to identify the stories behind them.

The pictures have received great interest on the Internet. One picture of a young woman was retweeted more than 1,000 times within three hours.

A white-collar worker surnamed An said: "I appreciate the Israeli photographer making us able to enjoy the beautiful things of many years ago and I want to know what happens now to the lovely babies in the photos and the other stories."

Chen Yuan, consulate press officer, said: "We have received warm feedback since the photos were posted, but so far nobody in the photos has contacted us."


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