The title refers to an old sailing expression referring to a wave of incredible size that comes after a succession of incrementally larger waves.
It depicts a sea after a night storm and people facing death attempting to save themselves by clinging to debris from a wrecked ship. The debris, in the shape of the cross, appears to be a Christian metaphor for salvation from the earthly sin. The painting has warm tones, which reduce the sea's apparent menacing overtones and a chance for the people to survive seems plausible. This painting shows the destructive side, and beauty of nature.
The Ninth Wave - Painting by Ivan Aivazovsky
Pink Floyd Reference
In the movie Children of Men
The Sea Wanderer
Morning in the Riesengebirge
With his friend Kersting he had made a tour of the mountainous area near Dresden known as 'Saxon Switzerland', in the summer of 1810. Morning in the Riesengebirge, painted shortly afterwards, is another exposition of his theme of the cross on a peak. It may be seen as a sort of continuation of the Tetschen Altar. The planes of earth and sky, representing the bodily and the infinite, are bridged by the crucifix, lit by the morning sun.