Born in Norfolk, Lane became deaf at the age of seven following what is thought to have been a fall into river mud. Despite leaving him unable to speak clearly, Lane went on to become a successful portraitist. He travelled to London in 1797 and for three years studied under the landscape painter, Joseph Farington. In 1800, he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools and was taught by Thomas Lawrence - Lawrence then employed him as a studio assistant from 1802. Throughout his career Lane received numerous commissions, and he submitted over 200 paintings to the Royal Academy, exhibiting nearly every year from 1804-57.