This popular image of a contemplative elderly gentleman standing on a ladder in a library, with books tucked under his arm and between his legs, was often engraved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and still sold as posters today. The original painting was created in 1850 and is now in the collection of the Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, donated by a collector who also gave several Spitzweg paintings to the Milwaukee Art Museum (see References below).
Carl (sometimes spelled “Karl”) Spitzweg, was a Munich-born German genre painter best known for his paintings reflecting, with sympathetic humor, aspects of middle-class German life in the 19th century.
“Art, Music and Recreation.” Milwaukee Public Library. http://www.mpl.org/File/arttour_9.htm (24 March 2008).