Marianne Breslauer, Self-Portrait, c. 1930
Marianne Breslauer (1909-2001) was born in Berlin on November 20, 1909. The daughter of Dorothea Breslauer and Prof. Alfred Breslauer, an architect, launched her career as a photographer in 1927. Having trained at Lette-Haus, Berlin, Breslauer travelled to Paris in 1929 where she met Man Ray. He encouraged her straight away to pursue her own photographic ideals. Magazine publications of her works in Für die Frau and Frankfurter Zeitung met with considerable success. She returned to Berlin in 1930 to start work at the Ullstein photographic studio. In 1931 she embarked on a two-month tour of Palestine; in 1932 she left the Ullstein studio to return to Paris.
Marianne Breslauer, Annemarie Schwarzenbach and her Mercedes, Berlin 1932
Marianne was a close friend of the Swiss writer and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, whom she photographed many times. She described Annemarie (who died at the young age of 34) as: "Neither a woman nor a man, but an angel, an archangel". In 1933 they travelled together to the Pyrenees to carry out a photographic assignment for the Berlin photographic agency Academia. This led to Marianne's confrontation with the anti-Semitic practices then coming into play in Germany. Her employers wanted her to publish her photos under a pseudonym, to hide the fact that she was Jewish. She refused to do so.
Marianne Breslauer, Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934
In 1933 the Academia agency sent her on a photographic assignment to Spain in the company of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. Following the Nazi coup, Breslauer did not return to Germany but travelled to Zürich instead where she obtained work with the Zürcher Illustrierte through Arnold Kübler, its editor-in-chief. A photo series about Erika Mann's Pfeffermühle originated in this context. Family matters prompted her return to Berlin in 1934, where she again worked for the Ullstein magazines.
Marianne Breslauer, Pamplona, 1933
Marianne Breslauer emigrated in 1936 to Amsterdam where she married the art dealer Walter Feilchenfeldt - he had previously left Germany after seeing Nazis break up an auction of modern art. Her first child, Walter, was born here. Family life and work as an art dealer hindered her work in photography. In 1939 the family fled to Zurich where her second son, Konrad, was born. After the war, in 1948, the couple set up an art business in Zurich specializing in French paintings and 19th-century art. When her husband died in 1953 she took over the business, which she ran with her son Walter from 1966 to 1990. Marianne Breslauer died in Zollikon, near Zurich, in 2001.