Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

A Chinese mystery

This photo of Larissa Andersen in the 1940s is taken in a Chinese-style club or restaurant:

This same banquet hall appears in some of the photos taken by A. T. Hull, Jr., in 1940. Hull photographed several dinner parties during his stay in Shanghai, including the Miss Shanghai 1940 beauty pageant in the Arcadia Cabaret.

But this Chinese-style location I've not been able to identify so far.


I've seen this backdrop before. There is a sequence I fished out from the 200+ unsorted A. T. Hull's photos that shows the same painted wall (or curtain) that Larissa is standing against.

Looking at this photo, at first I thought the staff member was sitting and waiting for guests to arrive, but the posture and the smile seemed a little contrived. Then I realized he was probably asked to sit there to test the lights: there is a tripod leg in the lower right corner, and the 'barn doors' on the light are visible in the upper right (covering some of the detail of the picture on the far wall):

This is the moon door where the staff greets the guests. This door appears to be on the left of the kang in the previous photo:

The same kang is now given over to the important guests to take their cocktails. Are they the ones for whom the lighting was tested? (The opium pipe is probably a prop):

Another angle; the left side of the kang and a piece of the moon door curtain with dragons:

The boy from the moon door image is showing a statue in another corner of the establishment:

Another angle on the moon door, from outside. The person posing is wearing the same robe as the distinguished female guest above. Did they make everyone wear it, or is another lighting test?

Clearly, A. T. Hull is not the primary photographer of this event; he is just using his portable flash:

Tags: 1940s, a t hull, investigation, larissa andersen, restaurants, russians, shanghai

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