Case Study: "The Bluestocking" by H. Daumier

The previous arguments are vividly illustrated by an examination of “The Bluestocking”.  It is one of many paintings by celebrated nineteenth-century French artist and caricaturist Honore Daumier, who had a reputation as a draughtsman of the highest calibre.   

Fig. 51 – “The Bluestocking” by H. Daumier.

We estimate the height of the woman to be between 5 and 6 feet in real life.  It follows that the window is about 3 feet wide.  The width of the window in the painting is measured to be about 4 times the diameter of the painted moon.  Hence, the angle subtended by the window is about 2°.

Fig. 52 – Estimation of how far Daumier is from the window.

The distance between Daumier and the window works out to be about 86 feet!  The woman is sitting in a small room and it is hard to imagine that there exists 86 feet of space between the artist and the window.  It appears that Daumier had made his moon much bigger than it actually was.

To find out how large the moon should be, we perform our calculations backwards.  Suppose Daumier is about 20 feet away from the window.  It follows that the angle subtended by the window is between 8.53° and 8.63°.  The diameter of the moon should then be about 17 times smaller than the width of the window. 

Fig. 53 – Suggested corrected moon size
for “The Bluestocking” by H. Daumier.

The corrected painting shows that the artistic impact of the moon is lost, and it now looks very trivial indeed.  One can conclude that Daumier deliberately drew a much larger moon for aesthetic reasons.