Crane, the son of an amateur painter, was born in 1857 in New York City. When he was 17, he apprenticed for two years with an architect in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Crane learned draftsmanship there, the foundation of his skill as an artist. During a summer trip to the Catskills, the young man spent an afternoon with a painting class and was entranced.
Crane visited Europe first in 1878 and several times over the next five years. By 1888, Crane had settled in a studio at 106 West 55th Street in New York. For the next half century Crane would remain a key player in the New York art world.During the summer, Crane, like many of his fellow landscape painters, sketched in New England. Those sketches later served as the seed of his paintings—but only the seed.
Crane exhibited annually and received awards in exhibitions around the country, from Buffalo to San Francisco. He died at his home in Bronxville, New York, in October 1937.