The large size, majestic composition, and mysterious atmosphere of this haunting landscape rank this painting among the most famous compositions of the great Dutch artist Jacob van Ruisdael. Using the cemetery of the Jewish Portuguese community at Oudekerk near Amsterdam as a point of departure, Ruisdael's painting goes beyond mere description. The artist has created an allegorical landscape in which the abandoned tombs, ruined church, storm clouds, and rainbow allude to the transience of all earthly things. This type of subject matter is often seen in still-life paintings, where the “vanitas” theme is represented by a skull, book, flower, or candle. It is unusual to find such symbolic meaning in landscape painting.