Images of women throughout French history range from propagandistic to satirical. If the Revolution purported to cede some rights to women (at least in theory), Napoleon curtailed them and the Restoration mocked them directly. The images below by the talented and opinionated Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) perfectly illustrate the scorn and ridicule directed at women of this era who sought to utilize their intellect or establish an identity around literary pursuits. Daumier was a painter and sculptor but he is perhaps best remembered for his caricatures. He was associated with the Realist movement in painting and considered talented by his peers, but his social commentary and opinions on moral issues of the day would leave him a legacy akin to the British William Hogarth from a century earlier. A convicted Republican and man of the people, he seems to have failed entirely to grasp the desire for women to seek a life as something other than wife and mother. For context, at the time that Daumier was sketching these drawings (1844) women in the United States were on the brink of the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls New York (1848). It should be remembered of course that sometimes the degree of antagonism toward a movement can be a mark of the movement's potency.
Daumier was probably influenced by Le Physiologie du bas-bleu External (Physiology of the Bluestockings) by Frederic Soulie. Daumier depicts these ambitious women as almost categorically old, mean-tempered and physically unappealing. For further discussion on the depiction of women in Daumier see Études de quelques types physionomiques dans l'oeuvre de Daumier by Belgian art historian Philippe Roberts-Jones or his translated introduction to, Humours of Married Life. To be fair, his drawings of men were similarly unflattering. Still, it seems clear that Daumier and many like-minded men found the plight of women wishing for any type of liberation in the mid to late 19th century to be an altogether ridiculous notion. Indeed, a dangerous notion as it would leave men and children uncared for, and perhaps even abused. He was similarly critical of the socialists — Les Femmes Socialistes — of the time, who were more preoccupied with the politics of the era than writing, but were viewed by men through an equally dubious lens.
Daumier was an extremely prolific artist, and his series of 40 plates on Les bas-bleu was published in Le Charivari External in the year of 1844. Le Charivari was a humorous illustrated magazine that would inspire Ebenezer Landells and Henry Mayhew to create the famous British magazine Punch or "The London Charivari" in 1841. The term bluestocking was used disparagingly here but it was originally referring to a member of the Bluestocking Society of England or more generally to any educated and intellectual woman. For discussion and translations of these and other drawings by Daumier see, Daumier, Liberated Women: Bluestockings and Socialists, catalogue and captions by Jacqueline Armingeat and translated by Susan D. Resnick. For an in depth study of the Bluestockings see, Brilliant Women: 18th-Century Bluestockings by Elizabeth Eger and Lucy Peltz.