Born in Oerlinghausen, near Bielefeld, Germany, Reber grew up relatively poor but his fortunes improved with his marriage to Erna Sander. By 1906 he had assembled a collection of nineteenth century painting, most notably by Cézanne. He left his native Germany in 1919, living in various places in Switzerland and Italy until settling in Lausanne. Most of his early collection was dispersed following financial losses during the Great Depression, and when rebuilt he focussed less on the nineteenth century and instead on the Cubist masters, particularly Picasso, Gris, and Leger. While in Italy in 1941, Reber is documented as acting as an intermediary securing art for Walter Andreas Hofer, art advisor to Goering. This relationship did not last, and he was stripped of his German citizenship and unable to leave Italy until after the war, returning to Switzerland in 1947. He died in Lausanne in 1959.
Sonderausstellungen deutscher Privatsammlungen im Städtischen Austellungs-Gebäude auf der Mathildenhöhhe zu Darmstadt II: Gemaelde Sammlung G.F. Reber, Barmen. Intro. by Georg Bierman. Darmstadt, 1913.
Waldmann, Emil. "Die Sammlung Reber." Kunst und Künstler XI (1913): 441+.
E., C. "Moderne Sammler Dr. G.F. Reber Lausanne (Anlässlich seines 50. Geburstags)." Weltkunst 4, no. 14 (6 April 1930):10.
Kosinski, Dorothy. "G.F. Reber: collector of Cubism." The Burlington Magazine 133 (1991):519
Geelhaar, Christian. Picasso: Wegbereiter und Förderer seines Aufsteigs 1899-1939. Zurich, c. 1993: 157-164
Kropmanns, Peter and Uwe Fleckner, "Von Kontinentaler Bedeutung: Gottlieb Freidrich Reber und seine Sammlungen," in Die Moderne und ihre Sammler. Berlin, 2001:347-407