After his stay in the Borinage, Vincent decided to return to Brussels to continue his development as an artist, and he contacted Tobias Victor Schmidt (1842–1903). Schmidt was the manager for the art dealers Goupil & Cie in Brussels, and Vincent’s brother Theo had worked for him in 1873 and lived in his house for a while. When Vincent returned to the city in 1880, Schmidt had just moved the business to Rue du Marché aux Herbes.
Vincent hoped Schmidt would do him the favour of introducing him to other artists in the city. Schmidt gave him a friendly reception, and Vincent paid him subsequent visits. Vincent saw photographs of reproductions of Jean François Millet’s The Diggers and The Angelus at Schmidt’s gallery; he borrowed them and used them as a reference for his drawing The Diggers (after Millet). He probably sent the drawing to his father to show him that he was working hard.
After Theo told Vincent in a letter of a financial dispute between Schmidt and the Van Gogh family, however, Vincent deemed it wise to minimise his dealings with Schmidt. He presumably acted on this thought, for subsequent correspondence no longer mentions Schmidt.