Born in Warmsworth near Doncaster in 1864, Lionel Crawshaw qualified as a solicitor before taking up painting and etching. He studied in Germany and Paris, exhibiting at the Paris Salon, before settling in Edinburgh. He painted a wide variety of subjects, including landscapes, figures and architectural subjects both in oil and watercolour and he was also known for his etchings.
He was elected member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1923. He exhibited at the Royal Society of Artists, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, New English Art Club, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours, as well as showing thirteen works at the Royal Academy between 1907 and 1946.
His second wife, Frances Crawshaw, was also an artist, specialising in painting flowers and pastoral subjects.