The following information was submitted in July of 2006 by James Kieley:
Herbert Abrams was born in Greenfield Massachusetts on March 20th, 1921. His parents were immigrants from Germany, and he was raised in the company of nine siblings. Abrams showed his potential in the arts at an early age, studying at the Norwich School of Art in his teens.
Evidently he assimilated enough artistic knowledge to gain recognition in his future endeavors. During WWII he served in various capacities in the United States Air Force, starting as a pilot. Later he was designated as Camouflage Technician. During this period he redesigned the official US Air Force insignia. He became an instructor who specialized in teaching art to commissioned officers at West Point.
After leaving the military, he wanted to further his formal knowledge of the arts and took courses at the Pratt Institute as well as the Art Students League in New York City.
He came under the spell of charismatic teacher Frank V Dumond. (1865-1951); at a later point he authored a book on the teachings of Dumond. Herbert Abrams began to apply his training. His technique improved He sold several of his pictures in outdoor exhibits in New York City.
He left New York and moved to Warren, Connecticut, with his wife. This area was suitable for any artist who desired a peaceful environment. The idyllic landscape was juxtaposed with the rugged untamed woodlands. Other recognized artists such as George L. Nelson (1887-1978) and Eric Sloan (1905-1985) resided in the area as well. Abrams raised his family and continued to paint there until his death.
He was adapting at skillfully rendering many subjects. When not painting high quality portrait commissions, he relaxed by painting various renditions of New England. He also excelled in depicting forms and textures in his still life paintings. One fine still life 16x20' depicts a bronze figure of Buddha with three contrasting roses laid at the base. (Circa 1955) Later he would use this experience for rendering props or background elements to his portraits.
Herbert Abrams was commissioned to paint portraits of leading political leaders and dignitaries of his day. Often this humble man dined with people of high office. It was not unusual for him to get a call from the President's secretary. He liked to observe his sitters in realistic relaxed attitudes before starting his sketches. Many of his portraits are hanging in the White House, presidential libraries and other places of honor. His commissions include General Westmoreland, Arthur Miller, Ronald Reagan, President Bush, First Lady Barbra Bush, and Jimmy Carter. After a long prolific career Abrams was forced to retire for health reasons. He died of prostate cancer.