The Hungarian photographer and illustrator Imre Szántó, who called himself Imre von Santhos as his professional photographer persona and J. de Chanteau for his erotic artwork, grew up in Budapest, and moved to Berlin after the First World War.
From 1929 Szántó worked for the Agentur Schostal in Berlin, a photographic agency which had its head office in Vienna and branches in Paris, Milan, Berlin and Stockholm. It was particularly successful in the 1930s, its customers including magazines such as Die Dame, Die Woche and Uhu in Germany, and Moderne Welt, Die Bühne and Wiener Salonblatt in Austria. Szántó regularly supplied images to Schostal relating to culture, fashion and glamour from his studio in Berlin’s Tiergartenstrasse. He frequently worked with the German supermodel of the day, Karin Stilke.
After Hitler came to power, he left Germany and moved to Vienna; however, he was a friend of Magda Goebbels and some of his Berlin fashion photography carries dates in the late 1930s and 1940s. In 1933 the Deutsches Modeamt (German Fashion Office) was established by the Ministry of Propaganda under Magda Goebbels’ leadership, but her husband dismissed her from the post five years later. Interestingly, Imre von Santho is shown in the Berlin telephone directories for 1940 and 1941 as having a studio on the Kurfurstendamm. Though most luxury magazines had suspended publication in 1939, von Santho remained as the main fashion photographer for the officially-sanctioned journal Der Silberspiegel (The Silver Mirror) until March 1943, when it too suspended publication.
In early 1945 he is listed as being a teacher at the Angelo photographic academy of Pál Funk, but in December 1945, fearing official retribution as a Hungarian with Jewish connections, he chose to take his own life.