A painter, draughtsman, book illustrator and etcher of architectural, figure and landscape subjects, he studied at the Royal College of Art and the Slade School from 1900 to 1905. He subsequently studied in Paris at the Académie Julian. Schwabe was a prolific exhibitor with the New English Art Club and the London Group throughout the inter war period. During the First World War he served as an official war artist. In 1924 he was featured in the Contemporary British Artists series and his considerable skills as a draughtsman were discussed by R. H. Wilenski: 'But, if I understand his work at all correctly, beauty for Schwabe, as for all academic draughtsman, is not significant (as it is for your romantic naturalist) or the abstract play of form and substance (as for your experimental artists of the modern movement), but a certain suavity of line and contour, and a certain conscious synthesis of execution. Beauty, in a word, for Schwabe, is style, and style, as he sees it, is an intellectual statement of specific natural form.' For a short time Schwabe was Drawing Master at the Royal College of Art. From 1930 he was Slade Professor, having succeeded Henry Tonks.