Henry Pearlman (1895-1974), a lifelong resident of New York City, rose through the ranks of the business world to found his own company, Eastern Cold Storage, in 1919. In 1925, Henry married Rose. In the early 1940s, Pearlman purchased a few realist paintings, but it wasn't until his 1943 purchase of Chaim Soutine's Village Square that he was inspired to build what would become a noted collection of Post-Impressionist works. Over the next three decades, Pearlman acquired numerous works by such well-known artists as Soutine, Modigliani, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Matisse, and Toulouse-Lautrec, in addition to those of lesser-known artists. In the early 1950s, Pearlman began collecting Cezanne watercolors. These paintings would become the cornerstone of his collection and would be exhibited around the world. Pearlman died in 1974, leaving his wife, Rose, to manage his collection until her death in 1994. From the mid-1970s, the Pearlman Collection has been on long-term loan to the Art Museum of Princeton.
The Pearlmans founded the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation in the 1950s. Much of the Pearlmans' artwork is now officially owned by the Foundation.