Crofts was one of the leading military-historical artists of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, painting numerous battle and campaign scenes. He was born in Leeds on September 15th 1847. He first studied art in London and in 1870 he moved to Dusseldorf in Germany to study with the military artist Emile Hunten. They witnessed the Franco-Prussian Battle of Gravelotte and visited battlefields around Saarbruck and Bomy. Crofts painted many battle scenes and amassed an impressive collection of original military uniforms and accessories.
In 1874 Crofts was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1875 he turned his attention to historical battle scenes. He was fastidious in his attention to detail and painted 12 canvases depicting events surrounding the Waterloo campaign.
He was elected Academician in 1896 and held the prestigious position of Keeper of the Royal Academy for many years.
He died on the 19th March 1911.