Randolph Schwabe

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Randolph Schwabe
Born (1885-05-09)9 May 1885
Eccles, Lancashire, England
Died 19 September 1948(1948-09-19) (aged 63)
Helensburgh, Scotland
Nationality British
Known for Painting, drawing

Randolph Schwabe, (9 May 1885 – 19 September 1948), was a draughtsmen, painter and etcher who was the Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College London from 1930 until his death.[1] He served as a war artist in both World Wars, created designs for theatrical productions and illustrated a number of books.[2]

Early life[edit]

V2 Damage at the Chelsea Pensioners' Hospital London, SW3 (Art.IWM ART LD 4807)

Schwabe was born in Eccles, Lancashire, the youngest of two sons to Octavie Henriette Ermen and Lawrence Schwabe, a cotton merchant whose father had emigrated from Germany in 1820. The family moved several times before settling in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, where Lawrence Schwabe opened a printing and stationary business. Randolph was educated at a private school in Hemel Hempstead and from an early age showed a talent for drawing. In 1899, aged fourteen, Randolph was enrolled at the Royal College of Art but was unhappy there and within a few months had transferred to the Slade School of Fine Art. In 1904 he won a Slade Scholarship and in 1905 won the college Summer Competition Prize. In 1906, a Slade scholarship allowed him to study at the Academie Julien in Paris before travelling to Italy in 1908. Working in Rome and Florence he gained a deep knowledge of Italian art and architecture.[3] Work by Schwabe was shown at the New English Art Club in 1909 and he became a member in 1917, having become a member of the London Group in 1915.[4] In April 1913 Schwabe married Gwendolen Jones and they were to have one daughter.[5]


Coventry Cathedral, November 1940 (Art.IWM ART LD 709)

During the First World War, Schwabe served as an official war artist, as poor health had prevented him enlisting, and he mainly produced paintings and drawings of the work done by the Women's Land Army. After the war he began to teach at both the Camberwell School of Art and the Westminster School of Art. In 1930 he succeeded Henry Tonks as Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College and as Principal of the Slade School of Fine Art. His work was widely exhibited and he also created designs for theatrical productions and illustrated a number of books, including Historic Costume (1925) and A Short History of Costume and Armour (1931), both with F. M. Kelly. In 1941 he joined the committee of the War Artists' Advisory Committee and was also given a short commission to produce pieces for their collection.[6] A columnist for the Chicago Daily Tribune nominated Schwabe for a Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for his cover illustration to The Old Churches of London by Gerald Cobb but had to write to the book's publishers to explain that he had been humorous as no such prize existed.,[7]

Although he remained Principal of the Slade, he moved to Helensburgh in Dunbartonshire for health reasons and he died there in September 1948.[5]


Works by Schwabe are held in several major collections; the Imperial War Museum has examples of his war-time commissions from both the First and Second World Wars. The Arts Council toured a major retrospective of his work in 1951. Schwabe's ashes are interned in a churchyard in Hampstead, over which stands a small statue of an angel by the sculptor Alan Durst. The angel wears a sash with the legend, Randolph Schwabe in whose life we have seen excellence in beauty.[5]


  1. ^ Ian Chilvers & John Glaves-Smith. A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. Oxford University Press/Oxford Reference Online. ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3. 
  2. ^ Ingnet (2010). "Randolph Schwabe RWS NEAC LG Tower Bridge". Ingnet. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Gill Clarke (2012). Randolph Schwabe. Sansom & Company. ISBN 978-1-906593-80-3. 
  4. ^ Tate. "Randolph Schwabe 1885-1948". Tate. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Heroes Centre (2012). "The Arts-Randolph Schwabe". The Heroes Centre. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Brain Foss (2007). War paint: Art, War, State and Identity in Britain, 1939-1945. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3. 
  7. ^ Gill Clarke (2008). The Women's Land Army A Portrait. Sansom & Company. ISBN 978-1-904537-87-8. 

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