Piet Kaufmann (1864–1940), the Van Gogh family’s gardener, often acted as a model for Vincent in 1881 – between thirty and fifty times, by his own account. On the advice of people including the artist Anton Mauve, Vincent had begun actively drawing from live models in September. It was difficult, however, to find people willing to pose as he wanted them to:
“But what a business it is to get people to understand what posing is! Peasants and townsfolk desperately cling to an idea they won’t give up, namely that one shouldn’t pose other than in one’s Sunday suit with impossible folds in which neither knee nor elbow nor shoulder blades nor any other part of the body has made its characteristic dent or hump. Truly, this is one of the petty vexations in the life of a draughtsman.”
“I also hope to succeed in finding a good model, such as Piet Kaufmann the labourer, though I think it will be better not to have him pose here at the house, but either in the yard at his place or in the field with a spade or plough or something else.”
Kaufmann almost certainly served as the model for the works Boy Cutting Grass with a Sickle, two Diggers, The Sower, and Kneeling Man, Planting. Although Vincent always asked him how much money he wanted, according to Kaufmann, he always posed for free.