Marianne was born in Berlin, the daughter of the architect Alfred Breslauer (1866–1954) and Dorothea Lessing (the daughter of art historian Julius Lessing). She took lessons in photography in Berlin from 1927 to 1929, and became an admirer firstly of the then well-known portrait photographer Frieda Riess and later of the Hungarian André Kertész, although she saw her future as a photographic reporter.
In 1929 she travelled to Paris, where she briefly became a pupil of Man Ray. A year later she started work for the Ullstein photo studio in Berlin, headed up by Elsbeth Heddenhausen, where she mastered the skills of developing photos in the dark-room. Until 1934 her photos were published in many leading magazines such as the Frankfurter Illustrierten, Der Querschnitt, Die Dame, Zürcher Illustrierten and Das Magazin.
Marianne was a close friend of the Swiss photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, whom she met through Ruth Landshoff and 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 and left Germany. However her photo Schoolgirls won the "Photo of the Year" award at the "Salon international d'art photographique" in Paris in 1934.
She 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, which she gave up to concentrate on her other activities. 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 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. She died in Zollikon, near Zurich.
- Marianne Feilchenfeldt Breslauer: Bilder meines Lebens: Erinnerungen. Nimbus, Wädenswil 2001, 2009, ISBN 978-3-907142-03-5
- Ein Fest für die Augen - Der Mythos Paris - Re Soupault, llse Bing und Marianne Breslauer. In: Unda Hörner: Madame Man Ray: Fotografinnen der Avantgarde in Paris. Ed. Ebersbach, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-934703-36-4
- Jutta Dick; Marina Sassenberg: Jüdische Frauen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1993, ISBN 3-499-16344-6
- Kershaw, Angela (2006). Women in Europe between the Wars: Politics, Culture and Society. Ashgate Publishing. p. 145. ISBN 0-7546-5684-5.
- Dominik Bartmann: Marianne Breslauer. Photographien: 1927–1937. Ausstellungskatalog, Stiftung Stadtmuseum, Berlin 1999, p. 10
- Manuela Reichart (November 17, 1989). "Das Geheimnis des eingefangenen Augenblicks" (in German). Die Zeit Online. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
- Photos by Marianne Breslauer in the Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur
- Nadine Lange: Der neue Blick. Zur Verleihung des Hannah-Höch Preises Award of the Hannah-Höch Prize, Tagesspiegel online, 29. Oktober 1999