A description of this picture from the Parlor Album, an artistic work of great merit, is as follows:--"The ray of light, which reveals the misery of these unfortunate men, is to them a second life,--every breast heaves with joyful emotion, and the smile of hope and thankfulness beams from every countenance. They have felt all the agonies of imprisonment, and now experience all the enthusiasm to which the prospect of liberty gives birth. . . . The voyage to Nova Zembla is one of the most intersting events in the history of the Republic of the U.S. of Holland. Failing in two attempts, in 1596 two vessels were equipped at Amsterdam, under the command of Jacob Hendricks, John Heemskerk (John Heemskerk was the son of Henry), and John Corneilszoon Ryp, the John Ryp of Corneille. . . . Heemskerk, notwithstanding he had lost sight of his friend, was not discouraged. Soon, however, his vessel was surrounded by icebergs, and the brave captain was obliged to winter during six months in a frail cabin, built of the timbers of the wreck. During eighty-two days the crew did not see a ray of sunlight; they suffered severely from the intense cold, . . . The moment Mr. Wittkamp has chosen for his picture is that when the sun reappears after so long a night. Several of the crew are sick, . . . but hope revives at the sight of the first golden ray of the sun. . . ." [PP. 12-13.]
Catalogue of Pictures, Statuary, and Bronzes in the Gallery of Joseph Harrison, Jr., Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. 1870.