Hilde Bauer was born on 31 March 1907 in Munich, Bavaria. After completing school, she studied art history and completed her doctorate under the supervision of Wilhelm Pinder with a thesis entitled The Sculpture of the brothers Martin and Michael Zürn in Munich. She then trained as a photographer at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt fur Lichtbildwesen (today the Staatliche Fachakademie fur Photodesign), under professors Hans Spörl and Arthur Schlegel. Upon receiving her qualifications, she worked in various museums.
In 1936 she moved to Italy and together with her first husband, Bernhard Degenhart, worked for several years at the Biblioteca Hertziana in Rome. Her first photographs were of sculpture, drawings and the Italian architecture of the Hohenstauffen/Swabian kings and of the Renaissance period, made to accompany essays by L. Bruhns, H. Keller and B. Degenhart in the 1937 Kunsthistorisches Jahrbuch der Biblioteca Hertziana. From the outset she contributed authoritatively to the reproduction and documentation of art works, using photography as an instrument of stylistic analysis. In May 1937 she completed her studies cum laude at the Munich photography college and was awarded a travel scholarship to Italy.
In 1941 Hilde married Wolfgang Lotz, who was on a scholarship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence. In 1943 she returned to Munich, surviving the difficult post-war years. In 1953 the couple transferred to America, where Wolfgang taught art history at Vassar College. In 1962, when he was appointed director of the Biblioteca Hertziana, they returned to Rome. In 1985, three years after her husband’s death, Hilde returned to Munich where she died in 1999 in the Augustinum care home.
Her work has featured in solo exhibitions in Florence (1977), London (1980), Bonn (1981) and Mannheim (1993).