Georges Petit (1856–1920) was one of the most important art dealers in Paris in the years when Vincent lived there. Almost immediately after inheriting his father’s gallery in 1877, the young Petit began selling Impressionist art; he also sold paintings that were more conventional in style. He was therefore a competitor of Durand-Ruel and of Boussod, Valadon & Cie. Petit organised sales exhibitions as well as auctions.
Vincent went to see Petit’s Exposition Internationale de Peinture et Sculpture in 1886 and 1887. The group shows gave him an opportunity to view recent work by numerous contemporary artists, such as Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. At the 1887 exhibition, which he attended with his brother Theo, he saw Prehistoric Man and Modern Man by Albert Besnard (1849–1934). Vincent greatly admired the paintings and mentioned them in a letter to Theo two years later.