The obelisk is a banpaal or border marker which probably stood on the road to Haarlem. Such banpaal were more that just milestones - they marked the limits of a town beyond which people were banished. No evidence has been found that a house stood next to this particular obelisk - it is an example of Rembrandt's juxtaposition of mundane and exotic objects in a landscape, so evident in his paintings of the late 1630's and his 'imaginary' landscape etchings, in the same vein as Landscape with a Sportsman and a Dog (lot 254).
Interestingly we can see the way in which he changed the design of the obelisk. Initially it was an accurate representation, with a decorated apex - visible just below the upper edge of the plate. By adding an extra piece on top he simplified the shape and unified it more closely with the farm buildings. Sulphur-tint has been used in the sky, just as it was in The Windmill (lots 265 and 266) in 1641, but Rembrandt's use of this technique had clearly improved in the intervening years, and the previous technical problems have been avoided.