Although Gauguin and other contemporaries had a profound impact on Van Gogh’s work, Van Gogh was also greatly influenced by some of his predecessors. The work of French artist Jean Francois Millet, in particular, resonated with Van Gogh. In many ways Millet’s experiences and the subjects he chose to paint mirrored Van Gogh’s life and work. Van Gogh could relate to Millet’s paintings of peasant life and the depiction of the plight of laborers. It was this realistic approach that Van Gogh often emulated in many of his paintings as shown.
Today we are still comparing the works of Van Gogh and Millet. In fact, in May of 2010 there was a special exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where Van Gogh’s The Sower, 1888 was seen along with Millet’s The Sower, 1850 for the first time ever.