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Abram Tromka
Polish-born American painter, etcher, artist

Abram Tromka

Abram Tromka
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Polish-born American painter, etcher, artist
A.K.A. Abram Phillips, A. Phillips
Was Artist Painter Etcher
From United States of America
Type Arts
Gender male
Birth 1 May 1896, Poland
Death June 1954, New York City, New York, USA (aged 58 years)
Star sign Taurus
The details


Abram Tromka or Abram Trompka (May 1, 1896 — 1954) was a Polish-born American Jewish painter, etcher, and serigrapher. He worked mostly in oil, gouache, watercolor, serigraphy, drawing, and etching. In his early career, he worked under the name "Abraham Phillips."

Life and career

Tromka was born on May 1, 1896, in Poland. When he was eleven, he emigrated with his family to the United States, settling in New York City, in 1907. It was on the boat coming to New York where he first became interested in art. Fascinated by a woman who was painting, he decided that he wanted to become an artist. Upon arrival at immigration headquarters, his family adopted the surname "Phillips," which he kept until 1930. Hence his early works bear the signature "A. Phillips." 

Tromka spent his earliest years sketching the people and places surrounding him. He left his home when he was fifteen (in 1911) and spent the remainder of his teenage years living at the Henry Street Settlement in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. His artwork impressed the settlement's founder Lillian D. Wald and in 1915, he illustrated Wald's 1911 book The House on Henry Street. Around the same time, noted businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, a patron of the Henry Street Settlement, purchased a number of Tromka's etchings and drawings and presented the etching "The Sweet Potato Vendor" to the Metropolitan Museum.

In 1915, Tromka began his schooling at the Ferrer School in New York City where he studied under Ashcan artists Robert Henri (1865-1929) and George Bellows (1882-1925), until 1922. Tromka was very impressed by the Ashcan style, and Henri and Bellows especially influenced his artistic development. Although he studied with Henri and Bellows, Tromka was for the most part self-taught. By 1923, he had a studio at 92 Fourth Avenue, in New York (now a post office), where he worked and lived for a number of years. Henri and Bellows were frequent visitors there during their lifetime.

In 1927, Tromka became friends with the curator of painting at the Brooklyn Museum, Herbert Bolivar Tschudy who organized Tromka's first solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1932. 

In 1930, he changed his surname from Phillips back to Tromka. Although his official surname was Trompka, he dropped the "p" for euphonious reasons. 

As a resident of Brooklyn, Tromka contributed to the New York arts throughout the rest of his artistic career, participating in many shows and exhibitions in galleries and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His work has been exhibited in museums in the United States and in Central and South America and is in the permanent collections of several important museums, including the Biro Bidjan Museum in the former Soviet Union. He also participated in the Federal Art Project throughout its entire duration from 1935 to 1943. 


  • Brooklyn Museum awarded Tromka for his merits in the visual arts in 1946 and again in 1952
  • Butler Art Institute (1948)
  • Long Island Arts Festival (1948)


  • American Artists Congress (New York branch)
  • Artists Equity Association
  • Brooklyn Society of Artists
  • Federal Arts Project
  • New York Journal-American – Staff artist
  • Salons of America
  • Society of Independent Artists


  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1932
  • John Herron Art Institute, 1938
  • American Artists Congress, 1938, 1939
  • Brooklyn Museum, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1942, 1950
  • Travelling Exhibition of Serigraphs, USSR, 1942
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, 1938, 1948
  • Corcoran Museum, 1944
  • Fine Arts Society of San Diego, Calif., 1941
  • Art Institute of Chicago, 1935, 1942
  • American Water Color Society, 1941, 1944
  • Carnegie Institute, 1941, 1944, 1945
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1944
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1943
  • De Young Memorial Museum, 1943
  • A. Albright Gallery, 1942
  • College Art Association Travelling Exhibition, 1937
  • Riverside Museum, N.Y.C., 1943, 1945
  • Library of Congress, 1944, 1945 (100 Prints of the Year)
  • Los Angeles Museum of Art, 1945
  • National Academy of Design, 1945, 1946
  • Albany Institute of History and Art, 1945
  • Butler Institute of Art, 1944, 1957
  • Philadelphia Art Alliance, 1944
  • State Museum, Trenton, N.J., 1950
  • Newark Art Museum, 1950, 1951
  • Wichita Art Museum, 1952
  • Springfield, Mass. Museum of Art, 1937
  • George Walter Vincents Smith Museum of Art, 1938
  • UNESCO-International Exhibition, Museum d’Art Modern, Paris, 1944
  • Circulating Exhibition, all in 1954-Birmingham Ala. Museum of Art
  • Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio
  • Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn, Alabama
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Hunter Gallery of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Norton Gallery of Art, W. Palm Beach, Florida
  • Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana

One-Man Shows

  • Brooklyn Museum, 1932
  • ACA Gallery, N.Y.C., 1933, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1945-46, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1961
  • Union of American Hebrew Congregations, New York Ctiy, 1958
  • Harbor Gallery, Cold Springs Harbor, Long Island, New York, 1966


Tromka died in June of 1954 in New York City, at the age of 58.

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