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Stunning Historical Portraits of Tomboys from the 1930s by Marianne Breslauer

Marianne Breslauer was a German photographer and photojournalist. She belonged to a generation of women photographers who took advantage of the Weimar Republic’s freedoms. She was a pioneer of street photography.

Marianne’s career lasted only a few years; her only surviving portfolio is from 1928 to 1938. In 1929, she traveled to Paris to study with Man Ray for a short time. After a year, she started working for the Ullstein photo studio in Berlin, headed by Elsbeth Heddenhausen, where she mastered darkroom skills. Many leading magazines published her photographs. Breslauer traveled to Palestine and Alexandria in the early 1930s before traveling with Annemarie Schwarzenbach, a Swiss writer, journalist, and photographer she met through Ruth Landshoff, whom she photographed many times. Together, they undertook a photographic assignment for Berlin’s Academia agency in the Pyrenees in 1933. Marianne was confronted by anti-Semitic practices then prevalent in Germany due to this. Despite her Jewish background, her employers wanted to continue publishing her avant-garde photos under a pseudonym. Marianne fled Germany as the Second World War broke out, refusing to yield and publishing her work under a false name. During this period, she admitted she was “done with photography.” She became an art dealer after the war, specializing in French paintings and 19th-century art.

Below are some stunning portraits of tomboys from the 1930s, captured by Marianne. Her subjects dress in soft, slouchy trousers and button-down shirts borrowed from the boys, alluringly liberated and ahead of their time. Despite their long evening dresses, they have a sullen masculine air with the grace and beauty of a swan.

#1 Marianne Breslauer

Marianne Breslauer

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#2 Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

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#3 Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934

Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934

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#4 Lisa von Cramm, Berlin, 1934

Lisa von Cramm, Berlin, 1934

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#5 Mannequins, Berlin, 1932

Mannequins, Berlin, 1932

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#6 Annemarie Schwarzenbach and her Mercedes, Berlin, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach and her Mercedes, Berlin, 1932

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#7 Zirkus-Junge, 1932

Zirkus-Junge, 1932

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#8 Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

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#9 Annemarie Schwarzenbach with her car and a shepherd in the Pyrenees, 1933

Annemarie Schwarzenbach with her car and a shepherd in the Pyrenees, 1933

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#10 Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Berlin, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Berlin, 1932

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#11 Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

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#12 Annemarie Schwarzenbach with a friend in Potsdam, 1934

Annemarie Schwarzenbach with a friend in Potsdam, 1934

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#13 Ruth von Morgen

Ruth von Morgen

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#14 Annemarie Schwarzenbach

Annemarie Schwarzenbach

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#15 Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Picnic, 1930

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Picnic, 1930

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#16 Working girl at her leisure, Berlin, 1933

Working girl at her leisure, Berlin, 1933

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#17 Jutta Zambona-Remarque

Jutta Zambona-Remarque

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#18 Annemarie Schwarzenbach, 1933

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, 1933

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#19 Photo by Marianne Breslauer

Photo by Marianne Breslauer

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#20 Annemarie Schwarzenbach with her dog, 1932

Annemarie Schwarzenbach with her dog, 1932

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#21 Annemarie Schwarzenbach crossing the Eiffel Bridge over the Onyar river, Girona, 1933

Annemarie Schwarzenbach crossing the Eiffel Bridge over the Onyar river, Girona, 1933

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#22 Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934

Ruth von Morgen, Berlin, 1934

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#23 Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Zürich, 1934

Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Zürich, 1934

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#24 Marianne Breslauer, 1933.

Marianne Breslauer, 1933.

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#25 With the ethnologist Ella Magyar, Sweden, 1939

With the ethnologist Ella Magyar, Sweden, 1939

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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