Hans Breinlinger came from a farming family in the state of Baden. He initially did an apprenticeship in photography and photographic retouching at the Vocational School in Constance. Then, from 1906 to 1908, he travelled to a variety of cities in France and germany working as a photographer. In 1910 he began to study at the Grand Ducal Academy of Arts in Karlsruhe in the class of Wilhelm Trübner. In 1918, Breinlinger returned wounded from the First World War.
In 1919 he exhibited for the first time at the Breidablick Exhibition in Constance, and in 1921 the Constance Art Association gave him his first solo exhibition. He married the successful writer Alice Berend in London in 1926. She was the elder sister of Charlotte Berend-Corinth, the wife of Lovis Corinth. From 1927 onwards, he regularly took part in the exhibitions of the association Die Juryfreien in Berlin, and in 1931 joined the committee of the Working Group of Catholic Artists. One year later, he was allowed to exhibit with the Berlin Secession, though he was not a member. The books by his wife Alice Berend were placed on the list of “un-German literature” by the National Socialists. She was Jewish, and in 1935 she emigrated to Italy to escape persecution by the Nazis.
Breinlinger and Alice Berend were then divorced. In 1937, works by Breinlinger were declared “degenerate art” and banned from the Municipal Wessenberg Picture Gallery in Constance and from the Mannheim Kunsthalle. Nevertheless, Breinlinger was still given numerous official commissions, including one in 1938 for a sgraffito in Frankfurt am Main.
Breinlinger’s studio was destroyed when Berlin was bombed on 23 November 1943, after which he returned to Constance.