Carl Fredrik von Breda was born in Stockholm on 16 August 1759, the third of five children of Lucas von Breda and Johanna Cornelia Piper. After receiving a thorough classical education Von Breda was trained at the Royal Academy in Stockholm, where he won his first medal in 1778; by then he was a pupil of the royal portrait painter, Lorenz Pasch the Younger. In about 1781 he married Inga Christina Enquist; they had several children, of whom two sons and a daughter survived. In 1784 Von Breda contributed nineteen paintings to the first public exhibition held in Stockholm, and was awarded the academy's gold medal. He was made a member of the academy in 1791.
After a period of successful practice in Stockholm, where he numbered the royal family among his patrons, Von Breda traveled to England in the summer of 1787, originally with the intention of going on to Italy, and worked for a time in Reynolds' studio. He exhibited at the Royal Academy annually from 1788 to 1796, and painted members of the Lunar Society in Birmingham between 1792 and 1793. He remained in London until 1796.
Shortly after his return to Sweden Von Breda was appointed professor at the Royal Academy in Stockholm. In 1800 he was commissioned to paint the coronation of Gustav IV, afterward becoming painter to the Swedish court. By now Von Breda had achieved a considerable reputation and was regarded as the most fashionable portraitist in Sweden, exhibiting regularly and painting a number of important groups. He died of a stroke in Stockholm on 1 December 1818.
[Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 23-24.]
Hultmark, Emil. Carl Fredrik von Breda: Sein Leben und Sein Schaffen. Stockholm, 1915.
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 23-24.