National Gallery Art, Washington, D.C.

“God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He shall receive me”; (Psalms 49:15), was a seminal notion in the development of Jewish and Christian theories of the world to come. This densely populated scene from “The Last Judgment,”; drawn by poet-artist William Blake (1757–1827), portrays the two basic regions of ancient Semitic cosmology. A leading figure in the English Romantic movement, Blake borrowed freely from the Bible, mystic tracts and his own imagination to create his own cosmology of religious symbols. The Seven-Headed Great Red Dragon sits in a cave, bottom center, sovereign over all those damned to a region resembling Sheol. Above the cave is the Great Whore. Trumpeting angels occupy the corridor to heaven, where righteous souls enjoy the rewards of paradise. The figure of God sitting in judgement, flanked by the “24 elders”; (Revelation 4:4), crowns the scene.