1868 – 1935 / German impressionist painter and author
Many important female artists of the 19th and 20th centuries received their artistic training at Académie Colarossi in Paris. It became a meeting place for aspiring women artists who had been denied the opportunity to study art in their home countries. One of those women was the multi-talented painter and author Jelka Rosen, who enrolled in the academy to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
The daughter of a Prussian diplomat, Rosen was born in Belgrade in 1868, although she spent most of her childhood in Westphalia, Germany. She grew up speaking three languages and even in early childhood demonstrated a notable talent for music and the visual arts.
Primarily influenced by the impressionists, Rosen painted airy landscapes in pastel colours and drew on her journeys to England and Norway for inspiration, as well as her own garden. Rosen was a close friend of fellow artist Ida Gerhardi. The two women often spent the summer painting together, and jointly exhibited their works on a few occasions. After a number of successful exhibitions, notably at the annual exhibition of the Salon des Indépendants, Rosen gradually abandoned painting completely.
Following her marriage to the English composer Frederick Delius, Rosen devoted herself entirely to supporting her husband in his work. She translated a number of texts for his operas and notated his compositions after he started to become blind and incapacitated in the 1920s as a result of late-stage syphilis.
Jelka Rosen died in London in 1935, just one year after her husband. A few of her works were posthumously auctioned off in Paris, and many of them are now considered lost.