Carolina was born in 1749 in the then still independent municipality of Friedrichstadt at the gates of Dresden. Her mother Johanna Dorothea Günther gave birth to six children. Caroline’s father was the etcher David Friedrich Friedrich. D. Fr. Friedrich specialized in painting artistically high-quality oil wallpaper for the nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie. With the branch in Friedrichstadt, he founded his own wallpaper factory with three employees. The Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) and the subsequent suffering of the population worsened his business base and led to debt. Caroline gave him instruction in drawing and with her five-year-older brother, the painter Johann David Alexander Friedrich, she learned oil and watercolor painting. Since the death of her father in 1766, Caroline, who remained unmarried, fed her mother and siblings thanks to her skills.
After studying in nature, she specialized in still lifes, the quality of which also spread in academic circles. The art-loving Saxon diplomat Christian Ludwig von Hagedorn feared a waste of talent in view of the starving Friedrich family, which could not least serve the city of Dresden and its reputation. Therefore, he campaigned energetically for Caroline, so that the Electoral Saxon Art Academy in Dresden awarded her a scholarship for hopeful art talents from 1770. In 1774 she was made an honorary member of the academy, and as a still life teacher she was the only woman to teach there since 1783.
In contrast to the more matter-of-fact plant depictions of her brother Jacob, Caroline’s tempera brush drawings on toned paper unfold more splendidly and more colorfully, which prompted Duke Franz Friedrich Anton von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld to buy thirty of her paintings.
Her sponsor, the Princess Henriette Amalie von Anhalt-Dessau, the youngest daughter of the Old Dessau, also bought several pieces from her. These were incorporated around 1900 in the picture gallery of the Amalienstift Dessau. However, many of her works have remained lost to this day, including her painting Allegory of World Peace with the embroidered motto “Pax universalis 1800”, which symbolized the year of peace in 1800 and attracted a lot of public attention – probably her only work outside the still life genre. Paintings by her hand later came to the collections of King Friedrich August II of Saxony. At the beginning of the 19th century, some of her pictures were included in the catalogs of the Dresden gallery. Today, the Kupferstichkabinett Dresden keeps a considerable number of drawings, watercolors and gouaches.
Castendijk Brothers, Rotterdam, circa 1977;
sold to a private Dutch collection;
thence by decent.