William De Morgan was a designer of stained glass for a decade before he became the ceramicist he is best known as. During this period, he made glass for around 14 churches and was involved in each stage of the process, from design to manufacture. This cartoon demonstrates his aptitude for figurative design, seldom recognised in his ceramics. It was therefore incredibly important for the De Morgan Foundation to relinquish it from the museum store and make it safe for public display.

With generous funding from DAS, Carol Willoughby, the Foundation’s conservator, has begun working on this canvas. So far, she has cleaned the thick layer of surface dirt to reveal an attractive, bright colour scheme, and the canvas has been relined to support and reinforce the painting. The loose canvas sheet has been affixed to a bespoke wooden stretcher to further support the design and allow us to mount the artwork on the wall. These images show the work in progress, before the next steps to fill the major losses.

We had hoped to display the finished piece in an exhibition in early 2021, but due to the circumstances this has been postponed. Therefore the work will go on display at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in the De Morgan Galleries once the work is complete.