Ivanović was born in Veszprém in the Austrian Empire to a middle-class family, and grew up in Székesfehérvár. After studying in Budapest, she worked in Belgrade from 1846 to 1847. In later years, she spent a lot of time traveling and living at different places, including Paris and Zagreb. Ivanović returned and died in Székesfehérvár in 1882.
During her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna she traveled to Munich, Paris and Italy. She brought new themes to Serbian painting: Genre art and Still life. She was stylistically in between the ideas of Biedermeier and Romanticism; she tried her hand at painting of historical compositions but reached the highest peaks in portrait. A special unit was her self-portraits. As the first educated Serbian painter, in 1876 she became the first woman member of the Serbian Learned Society.
- Kusovac, Nikola (1983). Katarina Ivanović: emlékkíallítás. Székesfehérvár: István Király Múzeum.
- Kusovac, Nikola; Mihailović, Radmila (1984). Katarina Ivanović: (1811–1882): Galerija Srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti. Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
- Timotijević, Miroslav; Mihailović, Radmila (2004). Katarina Ivanović. Belgrade: National Museum of Serbia. ISBN 978-86-83429-09-7.