Collection Artwork
A black-and-white photograph shows a bouqet of mixed roses at various stages of decay against a dark backdrop.
A black-and-white photograph shows a bouqet of mixed roses at various stages of decay against a dark backdrop.
A black-and-white photograph shows a bouqet of mixed roses at various stages of decay against a dark backdrop.
A black-and-white photograph shows a bouqet of mixed roses at various stages of decay against a dark backdrop.
Charles Hippolyte Aubry (Paris, France, 1811 – 1877, Paris, France)
American Beauty (Study of Roses)
c. 1864
albumen print on board
image size: 13 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.
paper size: 13 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.
board size: 18 x 14 in.
The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum
2017.41.103
Inscribed in pencil, lower right, on board edge: 31 [circled]
Inscribed in pencil, board verso, upper right: Q1228
Inscribed in pencil, board verso, lower left: P.I. 31, 3, 9
Inscribed in pen, board verso, lower left, directly below former: American Beauty

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Tang Collective Catalog


At first, American Beauty (Study of Roses) appears purely aesthetic, with atmospheric lighting, dramatic angles, and a sharpened subject matter. Aubry’s artistic choices captivate our eyes even without the flowers’ typical allures of vivid color and velvety feel. But up close, dehydrated, veiny, insect-eaten petals and brittle leaves reconstruct our perception of roses—society’s symbol of all things beautiful, perfect, and “natural.” I wondered, why would Aubry, with his man-made camera and chemical production process, capture roses past their prime? Upon further research, I learned about 19th-century French roses—hybridized with Chinese roses and chemically altered to satisfy the tastes of society’s consumers. Aubry’s work opened new discovery channels for me to contemplate society’s concealed thorns and how they have shaped my own identity.
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