Caroline Tischbein belonged to a family that produced more than 20 artists in three generations. Between 1770 and 1830, the women were well known as artists by their contemporaries. After that, the female members of the family fell into oblivion, although the male painters did not. The best known among them is Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (1751-1829) who in 1787 shared a flat in Rome with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, during which time Johann painted “Goethe in the Roman Campagna”.
Caroline and the other Tischbein women have been resurrected by art historian Prof. Dr. Martina Sitt, Professor of General Art History at the University of Kassel. For more than a year, under her leadership, the students at the Kunsthochschule Kassel researched these “disappeared artists” and used the results to mount an exhibition about them.
Caroline was the daughter of the Arolsen court painter Johann Friedrich August Tischbein and Sophie Tischbein. She received drawing lessons from her father, who later became director of the Academy in Leipzig (the city where Caroline would meet her future husband). Historian and professor Friedrich Wilken and Caroline met during his studies in Leipzig and married in 1806. The couple moved first to Heidelberg and later to Berlin; in both cities they traveled in intellectual and artistic circles. Caroline Tischbein died in Berlin on April 29, 1843. She left behind her memoirs which were written for her children but subsequently published.
In addition to Caroline, women painters from the Tischbein family included:
Elisabeth (Betty) Tischbein (1787-1867), another daughter of Johann Friedrich August Tischbein.
Amalie Tischbein (1756-1839), daughter of the Kassel court painter and academy professor Johann Heinrich Tischbein.
Sophia Antoinette Tischbein (1761-1826), daughter of Johann Jacob Tischbein and his wife, the painter Magdalene Gertrud Lilly.
Magdalene Margarethe Tischbein (1763-1836), sister of Sophia Antoinette
Top: portrait of Caroline Tischbein by her father Johann Friedrich August Tischbein (1750-1812)
Bottom: “Two Sisters” painted by Caroline Tischbein. The picture probably shows members of the Tischbein family, but their identity is unknown.