A number of famous artists will forever be remembered for their role in the Impressionist movement, but if any art historian were to compile a list ranking them in terms of chronological influence, then the first name would very likely be Edouard Manet.
Like a colossus, Edouard Manet straddled the dividing line between Realism and Impressionism. He started his career by depicting modern life in realist terms - itself unusual, as artists of his generation were expected to paint scenes depicting history or literature. In particular, he was known for bringing a sexual charge to his work - something that marked him as a controversial figure in his day.
As Manet developed as an artist he began to move away from the realist approach and towards something which, today, can be more readily recognised as Impressionism. He continued to depict modern life in contemporary France, but did so in looser terms - capturing his feelings, his sensations, his impressions of a given scene, rather than the reality of the world as it existed before him. Figures and backgrounds blur into almost abstract shapes, with the impression produced by the images more important than their verisimilitude - the very soul of the Impressionist movement.
"The Road Menders Rue de Berne" is a perfect example of the more Impressionistic side of Edouard Manet's artwork. The buildings are recognisably solid, demonstrating Manet's background in the Realist tradition. But the further the scene retreats into the distance, the more abstract it comes: loose squares and circles of colour stand in for trees and buildings, evoking a bustling city scene rather than portraying it in naturalistic terms.
The figures in the foreground are similarly loose; indeed, some of them appear to be melting into their surroundings, city and citizens becoming one. This is in stark contrast to if the same scene had been painted in a realistic fashion, in which case the viewer's eye would be drawn specifically to the people in the foreground. Instead, the emphasis of "The Road Menders Rue de Berne" is upon the scene as a whole, rather than any particular element.
Nobody who values the Impressionist movement could fail to appreciate Edouard Manet's contributions to artwork - and what better way to honour him than with a reproduction of "The Road Menders Rue de Berne" to hang in the living room?