Yvonne Hackenbroch was born to a Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Her parents were Zacharias Hackenbroch, a prominent art dealer, and his wife, Clementine, née Schwarzschild, a descendant of the antiquarian and philanthropist Selig Goldschmidt of J & S Goldschmidt. As a child, Yvonne became fluent in French, English, and Italian, besides German. She studied the history of art in Italy and at the University of Munich, where she obtained both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees. In 1937, to escape the Nazi regime in Germany, she moved with her mother to the UK, where she quickly landed a job at the British Museum. She helped excavate and catalogue the Sutton Hoo treasure, and served as the jewelery adviser to the 1944 film of Henry V, starring Laurence Olivier. In 1946, she was sent by the British Government to Toronto, where she provided expert advice on the Lee Collection of Renaissance art given to Canada by Arthur Lee, 1st Viscount Lee of Fareham, to thank the country for its support in World War II. About three years later, she moved to New York City to become a curator of the immense art collection given by Irwin Untermyer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It led her to write seven books, on subjects including antique silver, bronze, porcelain, needlework, and furniture. She later joined the Met as a specialist in Renaissance art and became a USA citizen. In addition to scholarly articles, she wrote another book, Renaissance Jewellery (1979), that established her as the world’s foremost expert in the field. After retiring from the Met in 1987 she moved back to London.