Thornely was a member of the Royal Society of British Painters, working mainly in oil. He lived in London where he exhibited widely at some of the foremost venues of his day, including the Walker Art Gallery, the Suffolk Street gallery, the Manchester Art Gallery and many others.
The artist's family name was Thornbery, but for an unknown reason he often varied his signature in different ways. Works have been identified signed; 'Thornely' with the "T" crossed; also Thornberry and Thornery. Nevertheless, the style of the artist is distinct and easily recognizable for its quality and appeal.
Undoubtedly exposed to the great works of Constable and Turner (early 19TH Century British marine painters of renown), Thornely acts as a stylistic stepping stone to the later impressionists. With a focus on the natural elements of sea & sky, he gives the viewer a strong sense of the fleeting moment.