Pierre Dubreuil was born in a wealthy family, well-established in the wallpaper trade. In 1888 he joined the Jesuit College of Saint-Joseph in Lille and started to take pictures with a half-plate camera aged sixteen. After three years in the Saint-Homer Dragons he started working with the photographer Louis-Jean Delton, who was specializing in horse subjects. In 1891 Pierre Dubreuil became a member of the Lille Photographic Society. There he met Robert Pauli who initiated him to the carbon and platinum printing techniques.
In 1896 to 1903 he got better known in the circle of pictorial photographers. The Parisian Photo-club accepted five of his prints in 1896. In 1900 he was admitted as a member to the Linked Ring Brotherhood in London. Dubreuil stayed in London in 1901 to study its landscape. He left the Brotherhood in 1908. In 1902 he spent two years in Paris photographing the city and its monuments.
Since 1904 he used the Rawlins oil print process which became his favourite printing process and which he used until 1930. 1910 he sent Alfred Stieglitz two prints. None was published in Camera Work, but six of those prints were exhibited at the International Exhibition at the Albright gallery in Buffalo.
During World War I he enrolled as emergency medical technician, and his home was looted and a good part of the photographic material got lost. Dubreuil would take up again work as a photographer only in 1923 in Belgium where he became a member of the Belgian Photographic Association, founded in 1874. He published several writings about photographic technique and aesthetics and took part in numerous exhibitions. In 1935 the Royal Photographic Society in London dedicated a retrospective exhibition to his work, showing some 150 works.
- Ribemont Francis et Daum Patrick (dir.), La Photographie pictorialiste en Europe, catalog of the exhibition (from October 19, 2005 to January 15, 2006, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes), Le Point du Jour Editeur and Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, 2005.