The Sower (after Millet), 1881 by Vincent Van Gogh

Sower was a subject that Vincent van Gogh keep coming back many times in his career. Peasant imagery was of great importance to Van Gogh, who began his career by copying prints of Millet, Corot and other members of the Barbizon School. Van Gogh was a particular admirer of Millet, and once wrote "since Millet we have greatly deteriorated."

Although Van Gogh was born into a middle-class family, he came from a small town, Nuenen where agriculture and therefore hard labor was a prevalent industry, and he later worked in areas of great poverty. He developed a strong sympathy and respect for the peasants that he saw, and was socialist in his opinions and outlook. His depictions of peasants remained similar in concept to those of Millet, in that he gave his figures an eternalizing spirit that emphasized their long history rather than using his paintings to advocate change.