Herbert Abrams

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Herbert E. Abrams
Herbert E Abrams - self portrait by artist.jpg
Herbert Abrams Self Portrait, oil on canvas
Born (1921-03-20)March 20, 1921
Greenfield, Massachusetts
Died August 29, 2003(2003-08-29) (aged 82)
Warren, Connecticut
Nationality American (United States)

Art Students League of New York 1948-1953

Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY 1946
Known for Oil Painting

Herbert E. Abrams (1921–2003) was an American artist. He was one of the leading portrait artists of his era known for his style of traditional realism. His works included the official White House portraits of former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. During his prolific career, he painted many dignitaries including Gen. William Westmoreland, playwright Arthur Miller and astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr.

Other portraits by Abrams are displayed at the Capitol (former Sen. Howard H. Baker ), the Treasury Department (former Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan), the National Portrait Gallery (Miller) in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (Westmoreland and Aldrin).

Early life[edit]

Abrams was born in Greenfield, MA as the 9th child in a family of 10. His parents were first generation immigrants from Germany. His early childhood was spent on a farm, but by his high school years the family was living in Hartford, Connecticut, where Abrams attended Hartford High School. He credited the teachers there with persuading him to focus on school and continue with his education. After highsSchool he attended Norwich Art School (1939–1940), and Pratt Institute.[1]

Military Service[edit]

In 1942 he was drafted into the army and became a camouflage technician. In this position he re-designed the U.S. aircraft insignia, adding the tabs on the sides of the circle to make it more distinctive at higher speeds. He then was trained as a pilot and became an advanced flight instructor. He was a Second Lieutenant.

White House Portraits[edit]

Abrams' works include the official White House portraits of former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. These portraits are currently hanging in The White House, Washington, DC. He also painted the official portrait of First Lady Barbara Bush.

Official White House portrait of Jimmy Carter(1983), by Herbert Abrams
Official White House portrait of Jimmy Carter (1983), by Herbert Abrams.


After WWII, Abrams returned to The Pratt Institute and graduated with honors in 1946. He then attended the Art Students League of New York from 1948–1953, studying with Frank Vincent DuMond.

Middle Years[edit]

Abrams spent many years living on West 67th street in New York City, selling paintings at the Greenwich Village Art Show. He also taught classes for officer personnel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1953 to 1974. In 1961 he was commissioned by the West Point Museum to do a portrait of William C. Westmoreland.


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