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Rockwell created The Bookworm as a cover piece for the August 14, 1926 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The viewer quickly realizes that the subject’s errands have been interrupted as he browses art titles found at a local bookstall. A personification of the absent-minded professor, Rockwell’s Bookworm appears lost in thought as he is consumed by the book held mere inches from his face. It is unlikely that he will stay on task—with coat buttoned incorrectly, wearing mismatched shoes—despite the string around his finger and the note in his basket reading, “don’t forget matches and cheese.”

Rockwell’s Bookworm painting was modeled after that of Carl Spitzweg, also in the Grohmann Museum collection. As Palmer (2011) has noted, Rockwell was strongly influenced by the German Romantic painters, as he had three books on Spitzweg in his personal library, and numerous others covering the Romantic period.

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