Edouard Manet was a prominent 19th century painter who rose to great fame. A generation older than the Impressionists, that didn’t stop them from counting Manet as their friend and unofficial father of Impressionism. Manet denied the fact that he so greatly influenced anyone and tried to distance himself from Impressionism. In order to maintain popularity with the masses and prestige at the Academie, Manet tried to deny that he was an Impressionist painter in the slightest. But whatever prestige he had amongst the elite painters and critics was already tarnished somewhat by his painting Olympia. A mostly nude prostitute lounges on bed, looking directly out at the viewer. Although this was accepted for exhibition, it was considered scandalous and many didn’t give Manet good feedback. Nonetheless, this painting did draw attention from his young contemporaries the Impressionists and influenced them directly as they searched themselves for a new way in which to portray the world.
But the fact remained that Manet’s style of art was very different from the realist paintings that populated many homes and galleries of the day. Especially after Manet took in Berthe Morisot, who would later marry his brother Eugene, Manet began to paint in an undeniably impressionistic style. Morisot, and her friends the Impressionists, worked their magic on Manet and changed his style from the slightly impressionistic early works of his such as Olympia, to the works that can be called true Impressionism, such as Manet’s Mother in the Garden at Bellevue. Manet’s mother sits reading, completely absorbed and not looking at the viewer. The garden behind her is dappled in sunlight. The trees and plants shifting from yellow to a bright, light green. Darker shades fill the shadows, creating a calm atmosphere and realistic garden space.
His style becomes even more loose and Impressionistic, as can be seen in his painting titled The Road-Menders, Rue de Berne. In his painting we have a look down from above, perhaps from one of the windows of the buildings which line the street. The bottom of the painting depicts several men in white clothing bent of the road with tools. Elsewhere, life goes on, people attending to their everyday activities, paying no heed to the road workers. The sun makes the movement, sidewalks and buildings shine a brilliant white in which the road-menders appear as no more than faces and hands against the road. A building casts long, blue and gray shadows against the street and buildings beyond.This painting especially shows Manet’s Impressionist style. It is easy to see why the younger Impressionists unofficially deemed him the father of their movement. His painting brings out the beauty and grace in even the most mundane a scene, bringing the world about us whose charm and beauty are so often overlooked into knew and dazzling light.