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Herbert Elmtree Abrams

1921-2003

Abrams was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. He attended the Norwich Art School from 1939 to 1940, followed by a year at the Pratt Institute. In 1942, he was drafted into the army and became a camouflage technician. During that time, he redesigned the Army Air Force’s aircraft insignia. Following the war, he completed his studies at the Pratt Institute and then studied at the Art Students League.

Abrams taught art classes at the U.S. Military Academy from 1953 to 1974. During this period at West Point he received his first major portrait commission of General William Westmoreland, then superintendent of the Academy. In 1972, Abrams went to South Vietnam to paint war scenes for the Army’s military history program.

Abrams' notable commissions include the White House portraits of Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush; playwright Arthur Miller; and astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. Twenty-one of Abrams’ portraits are included in the collections of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The Johns Hopkins University awarded Abrams an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1997.

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