A native of Lauterecken, Bavaria, Carl Christian Brenner is noted for his landscapes and genre paintings. As a youth, he demonstrated sufficient artistic talent to be offered admission to the Munich Art Academy. However, Brenner's father insisted he decline the offer and instead be trained as a glazier. At the age of fifteen, Brenner immigrated to the United States, landing first at New Orleans in 1853. He worked as a sign painter and glazier in that city for a few years, but then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he made his home for the remainder of his life. Working from his adopted city, Brenner painted a panoramic view of Civil War scenes for the Masonic Hall of Louisville in 1863.

In the 1870s, Brenner began to devote his energies to landscape painting, creating many lush, detailed views of the parks, rivers and forests in Louisville and the Cumberland mountains, for which he became well known and especially beloved locally. He also traveled to the West to paint views of the Plains states, Colorado, California, Washington, and Oregon.

Brenner exhibited landscapes in the Louisville Industrial Exposition of 1874 and Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. He participated regularly in annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design from 1877 to 1886 and in those of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1881 to 1885. His work is in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, St. Louis Museum of Art, Speed Art Museum, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art, and Morris Museum of Art.