Born in Paris in 1811, Charles Hippolyte Aubry spent over 30 years in the decorative arts area, designing patterns for fabric, carpet and wallpaper manufacturers. In 1864, he started a company to produce plaster casts and photographs of flowers and plants. He made around 150-200 negatives of plant still lifes his first year and became a master of botanical still life photographs.
Using a technique of his own to make the fragile plant life more photogenic, he often dipped the leaves and plants in plaster, both to enhance the three-dimensional aspect and to counter the negative's acute sensitivity to the green color of many of them.
Although Aubry's goal was to establish an archive for artists and designers, a bankruptcy in 1865 forced him to close his studio and move to a village near Paris, where he continued to photograph. Scholar Anne McCauley writes that Aubry even approached Nadar with an offer of a partnership if he would only help to publicize the venture and sell the prints. There is no indication that Nadar ever responded to the request.
Aubry managed to keep his business going with clients that included French and overseas drawing schools, textile factories in Mulhouse, the American company Tiffany and the prestigious Gobelins Manufactory. Aubry returned to Paris around 1872, but photographed only intermittently, dying there in 1877.