Illustrator and painter born in Liverpool. As a young man of fourteen he was apprenticed to William James Linton an engraver, 1859-62. He also furthered his art studies at Heatherley's in London. In 1863, he met Edmund Evans, the pioneer of colour printing, and they soon began to produce the long series of cheap children's picture books which made Crane's name. From 1867, he also worked for the Dalziel brothers and his work was reproduced in the periodicals Once a Week and Fun. About this time he began to exhibit his paintings and showed at the Dudley Gallery and eventually at every major gallery of his time. These included exhibits at the RA, FAS, GI, RI, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Leicester Galleries, London Salon, with the Society of Painters in Tempera, RBA, RHA, ROI, RSA and at theRWS of which he was an elected member.
He was also much concerned with art education, and was appointed as an Examiner in Design to the Board of Education to London County Council and the Scottish Board of Education, Director of Design at Manchester School of Art 1893-97, Director of the Art Department at Reading University in 1898 and he was Principal of the Royal College of Art, 1898-99. Crane was the founder and first Master of the Art Workers' Guild in 1884 and became the first President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. He was a contributor to the AWQ and his work is in the collection of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Tate Gallery, London, Manchester City Art Gallery, Dundee University Fine Art Collection, Scotland and in theCourtauld Institute of Art, London.
A little-known fact about Crane is that he designed stained glass windows. Much was made by a Frederick George Christmas (1867-1938) a decorative artist and also by James Sylvester Sparrow (1862-1919).