She studied under the miniature painter Joseph Einsle.
Her portraits, similar in style to the ones of Angelica Kauffman, made her the first woman to enter the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. She spent the time between 1822 and 1824 in Rome, where she became a disciple of Johann Friedrich Overbeck. After this journey, she started painting images, including Stoning of Saint Stephen for the Church of Saint Stephen in Karlsruhe.
In 1829, she became court painter to Grand Duchess Sophie of Baden.
Ellenrieder returned to her home town in the 1840s and continued producing religious images. They are now part of the Royal Collection in Osborne House.
She died in her home town of Konstanz in 1863. The largest collection of the work of Marie Ellenrieder in the United States is held by the Jack Daulton Collection in Los Altos Hills, California.