H Ferdinand Gros was of Swiss origin. He arrived in South Africa circa 1869. On July 16th 1870 he was advertising that the Photographic Salon 'will resume again' in the 'Burgherdorp Gazette'. In the 'Diamond News' on March 9th 1872 he announced that he was taking over the studio of Weber and Gros and that he would soon open a 'Superb Salon' at New Rush (Kimberley). The New Rush studio was advertised for sale in 'Diamond News' 13th April 1872. However, this sale appears not to have happened as in 'Diamond News' on October 8th and December 10th 1872 he was still advertising the New Rush studio. He visited the goldfields at Pilgrim's Rest and Mac Mac ('Diamond News' May 9th 1874 and February 13th 1875). He also visited Lydenburg goldfields. In 1877 he set up the 'Photographic Gallery' at the corner of Church Street and van der Walt Street, Pretoria. In 1877 he photographed the Transvaal Annexation Commission at Ulundi House, Pretoria. He also photographed scenes in Pretoria during the First Boer War, these were later bound in to the limited edition (200 copies) of 'News of the Camp' (1880-81). He photographed Chief Sekukuni in 1879. Circa 1888 he made a photographic tour of the Transvaal. He returned to Europe in 1895 and his Pretoria studio was taken over by J. Perrin (Cowan 1978, pp.99-101).
Below is a small selection of photographs taken by Gros.
Passenger and Government Mail Coach (circa 1888)
Hatherley Distillery near Pretoria (circa 1888)
'Sticking Fast' - In the Six Mile Spruit near Pretoria (circa 1888)
Native Labourers working on an incline shaft (circa 1888)
A timbered stope - Meyer and Charlton (circa 1888). Harry Struben is wearing the bowler hat
Knights lake at Driefontein (circa 1888). Again Harry Struben is wearing the bowler hat.
Struben Brothers Stamp Mill (circa 1885)
Fred and Harry Struben - Confidence Reef Mine (circa 1885)
Botanic Garden (Witpoortjie) falls (circa 1885)
Camera similar to the one used by H.F. Gros 1885
Rod Kruger with a Gros album
- Rod Kruger, Bull, Marjorie and Joseph Denfield (1970) 'Secure the shadow: the story of Cape photography from its beginnings to the end of 1870 '. Cape Town: T. McNally.
- Cowan, N. (1978), 'Photograficana of H.F. Gros', 'Africana notes and news'. Volume 23, number 3, pp.99-104.
- 'Transvaal almanac 1877'.
Main image - Church Street South Pretoria (circa 1888)