Jannelise R. Galdone

Jannelise Galdone portrait
Jannelise R. Galdone was born on May 4, 1914, in Palo Alto, Calif. She was the eldest of the nine children of Herman Rosse, an architect and designer for stage and film and Helena Luyt Rosse, a garden designer. Her parents, both Dutch, met while both were involved in the construction of the Peace Palace in the Hague, Netherlands. Her family relocated many times due to the demands of her fatherʼs career. She lived in Ravinia, Ill., Hollywood, The Hague and in New City, Rockland County, N.Y., where, in the 1920s, her parents established what was their only permanent home. The Rosse homestead was adjacent to the South Mountain area of New City and Pomona, where a colony of artists, writers and musicians made their homes and worked.

When Herman Rosse took a teaching position in Holland and the family moved there in 1934, Jannelise stayed in America to attend college. The Rosse family was caught up in the invasion of Holland during WWII and could not return to America until after the war. Jannelise lived on Christopher St. in New Yorkʼs Greenwich Village, working in fashion photography while managing her familyʼs stateside affairs.

Jannelise met Paul Galdone while attending an evening life drawing class in New York City. They were married, shortly before the U.S. entry into the war, at New Yorkʼs City Hall. After the ceremony they went to the movieʼs to see Dumbo for what they jokingly called their honeymoon.

During the war years, Jannelise worked as a draughtsman and photography technician for the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Va., where Paul was stationed. Largely self-taught, she drew highly technical plans for pontoon bridges, landing mats and construction. She also was involved in Paulʼs work as an artist at the Engineer Corpsʼ publications department.

On discharge from the Army Jannelise and Paul moved to her familyʼs house in New City, which had been rented for some time. In preparation for the Rosse familyʼs return from Holland, they converted a stable built by the tenants of property to the house where they would live for the next six years. There they began raising their two children and formed the working partnership that would continue for the rest of their lives.

Jannelise was vitally important to Paul Galdoneʼs success as an illustrator. The Galdone household was a workplace, where all aspects of life were structured and managed to support Paulʼs prodigious output. Jannelise designed and supervised the construction of the house and studio on Phillips Hill Road in New City where the family moved in 1953. She read the galleys of books that came in, noting the best passages to be illustrated and suggesting designs for jackets. She worked on color separations, lettering and paste-ups and researched and helped draw the more technical parts of illustrations.

Most importantly she was Galdoneʼs most honest and discriminating critic. He would consult her about all aspects of his work and defer to her opinion almost completely. Many times she would strongly insist that he revise or completely redo drawings. He came to rely on her judgement and never sent out any finished work that did not meet her approval.

Beside her involvement in Paulʼs work she also managed the finances and household. She made and maintained extensive flower and vegetable gardens, sewed and knitted much of her own and the familyʼs clothes, did most of the finish carpentry in their house and continued her work in photography.