The workers' stolid forms contrast to the ghostlike creatures swarming along Karl Johan Street in Evening on Karl Johan Street. After
lambasting the bourgeoisie, Munch's new-found public outlook led him to depict the working-class world, although he was not a romantic or political idealist.
The Roadmenders by Edouard Manet is the source for this painting, but Munch is more determined to portray specific workmen. They form a wedge, their shovels and legs creating an architectonic framework. Their exertion is apparent in their faces; the man on the right seems to rest on his shovel, while the smaller figures behind are working in the snow. A rough dignity and self-esteem radiates from the group, caught as though posing for a photograph, placing the work in the tradition of Millet (though without his sentiment) and van Gogh (but without his intensity).