Heavily symbolic in its composition, the painting depicts the final steps of the Wandering Jew, a mythical figure cursed to walk the earth in exile until the Second Coming as punishment for taunting Jesus on the road to the Crucifixion.
Fatigued and forlorn, Ahasuerus shuffles through a bleak and icy polar landscape that marks the end of his ceaseless wanderings. He is escorted by the Angel of Hope to his right and a Grim Reaper-like representation of death to his left. The nude female symbolizes the death of humanity - the seeming tragedy reinforced by the inapposite presence of crows in flying over the lifeless figure.
However, crows are more than merely a symbol of death; they also illustrate a point of transformation from the physical world to the spiritual world. Ahasuerus has a choice to make. What will he ultimately choose?
It's a shame that so few of Hirémy-Hirschl's paintings have survived. The ones that have demonstrate exceptional visionary quality.