Saturday, February 15, 2020

Photographers in Natal: Benjamin and Harry Kisch

In 1863 B Kisch and Co were listed in the Natal Almanac as Grocers and General Dealers in Ladysmith. Kisch and Wilkinson appear in the Almanac as General Merchants and Provision Dealers of West Street Durban. 


Benjamin Kisch operated a photographic studio in Durban from the 1870s. He and Henry Alexander Grant were in partnership there by 1867. 

By 1872 Kisch and his brother Henry were working together. Henry travelled about taking photographs, many during the period of the Anglo-Boer War, and contributed all the photos for a valuable history of the Siege of Ladysmith. Henry then settled in Pietermaritzburg returning to Durban ten years later. 

Benjamin remained in Durban, taking photographs of a high quality, some hand-coloured, and many of local celebrities including Sir Garnet Wolseley. Perhaps his most famous portrait was that of the Prince Imperial. Benjamin died in 1889 leaving an insolvent estate. His widow kept his studio going for seven years afterwards. 

The photograph above was taken by Benjamin in the Mercury Lane studio during the 1880s.

Some confusion exists in various publications re Benjamin being the brother of Braham Kisch, a commercial photographer who was Cape-based. This relationship is incorrect and Braham Kisch never operated a studio in Durban.

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