Painting: The Bookworm – 1850

Readers reading #2

Carl Spitzweg – The Bookworm – 1850 – Museum Georg Schafer, Schweinfurt, German.

Carl Spitzweg – The Bookworm – 1850 – Museum Georg Schafer, Schweinfurt, Germany

Ahh …. I’m envious. Just don’t step backwards!

This post is the second in a series on art showing “Readers reading” (this was the first). My background in the booktrade and as a librarian has probably had an influence on my taste – but being a reader even more so.

I love how absorbed The Bookworm is in his book – and notice that he has two books open simultaneously, with a further book under his elbow and yet another between his knees. There’s a dust rag hanging out of his pocket. He seems to have forgotten the precarious physical situation he is in. What would the Health and Safety folk say? It reminds me of two courses I had to take when working at a university: ‘Using ladders – beginners’ and ‘Using ladders – advanced’. I kept both my certificates, it all helps strengthen the cv.

But what might The Bookworm (1850) be reading? If you want to know what was published in that year, try this post. But for once we have a better clue. He seems to be looking in the metaphysics section of his library.

Image showing definition of the term metaphysics.

Could it be that this man is an expert in ‘Abstract theory with no basis in reality’? And I thought he was a man of action.

I’ll finish this post with a metaphysics joke (thank you, Woody Allen).

“I was thrown out of college for cheating in the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.” ― Woody Allen, Annie Hall


The ‘Readers reading’ series on this blog (this list last updated, 12th March 2017).

Readers reading #1. A Girl Reading In A Sailing Boat (1869) By Alfred Corbould.

Readers reading #2 The Bookworm (1850) Carl Spitzweg.

Readers reading #3 A Pleasant Corner (1865) – By John Callcott Horsley.

Readers reading #4 The Novel Reading (1841) – By Josef Danhauser.

Readers reading #5 The Poor Poet (1839) – By Carl Spitzweg.

Readers reading #6 The Travelling Companions (1862) – By Augustus Egg.

Readers reading #7 The Breakfast (c.1911) – By William McGregor Paxton.

Readers reading #8 Answering the Emigrant’s Letter (1850) – By James Collinson.

Readers reading #9 The Love Letter (1808) – By Willem Bartel van der Kooi.

Readers reading #10 The Day Dream (1880) – By Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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