Painter and teacher, Adèle Reifenberg was born into a Jewish family in 1893 in Berlin, Germany, the eldest of three children; her father, Ernst, was a factory owner. She was encouraged to become a painter from an early age by her teacher, Eva Stort, at the Charlottenschule, and continued her studies at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Weimar (1911-15) where she was mentored by Lovis Corinth and Max Beckmann, and won a prize for landscape painting in her final year. After completing her studies, she established a studio in Berlin and worked as a freelance artist, taking portrait commissions and exhibiting in private galleries, often curating her own shows. She had her first solo exhibition in the city in 1928. For financial security, she also took a teaching course so that she could offer private lessons and teach in Berlin schools. She probably met her husband, fellow Jewish painter, Julius Rosenbaum, while they were both studying under Corinth, and the couple married in 1930. Following Hitler's accession to the Chancellorship in 1933 and the introduction of increasingly antisemitic legislation, their working and exhibiting opportunities were curbed. In 1934, their works were included in the Exhibition of German-Jewish Artists' Work: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture organised at the Parsons Gallery, London by German-Jewish émigré dealer, Carl Braunschweig (later Charles Brunswick), which included 221 artworks by 86 artists suffering persecution under the Nazi regime.
Five years later Reifenberg and Rosenbaum fled to London with her architect brother, Heinrich (Heinz) in 1939, taking many of their artworks with them. One of her best-known portraits depicts her sister-in-law Elise Reifenberg (Ben Uri Collection), a pioneering court reporter who achieved overnight fame in 1931 for her socially critical novel about the later years of the Weimar Republic, Käsebier erobert den Kurfürstendamm, under the pen name of Gabriele Tergit. During the Second World War, exhibition opportunities for the Reifenberg-Rosenbaums were limited, but both exhibited in 1943 in the Artists Aid Jewry show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, in London's East End, where Reifenberg's six works included a pastel entitled Jewish Girl Left Behind in Holland and the portrait of Rabbi Emil Bernhard Cohn. Postwar, between 1948 and 1956, they established a successful painting school, exhibiting alongside their pupils as the Belsize Group. After her husband's death in 1956, Reifenberg moved to South Hill Park, Hampstead, and devoted herself solely to painting. Her later works were mostly impressionistic landscapes in oil and watercolour and she was frequently reviewed in the pages of AJR Information. She showed frequently with Ben Uri, including in joint exhibitions in 1950 and 1961, and in a solo show at Ben Uri's Dean Street Gallery in 1973 to mark her 80th birthday, also celebrated by a solo show at the Camden Arts Centre. She also held a solo exhibition at the Margaret Fisher Gallery in 1986, the year of her death. Adèle Reifenberg died at her Hampstead home. Posthumously her work has featured in Ben Uri's group exhibitions including: Refugees: The Lives of Others (2017) and Finchleystrasse: German artists in exile in Great Britain and beyond (1933-45), held at the German Embassy, London (2018). Her nephew is the German contemporary artist Dodi Reifenberg who continues to research her life and work. Her work is represented in the Ben Uri Collection, Haifa Museum of Art and New Berlin Gallery.