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Blake thought and wrote of Jerusalem as a city symbolising peace and liberty. He also illustrated events in its history. Here Dante and Virgil are climbing the Mount of Purgatory, described by Dante in canto 10 of Purgatory in his Divine Comedy.

A scene carved in the rock on the left shows the return of the ark of the sacred covenant to Jerusalem. King David dances in front of this ark as it enters the city. Its arrival signalled the liberation of the Jews from the Philistines. Elsewhere, Blake compared the ark to a ‘Dove of Peace’.

December 2004