Portrait of Poly, 1866 by Claude Monet

While Monet was working at Belle-Ile, the fisherman Guillaume Poly frequently visited the inn where he was staying. Monet painted this portrait during that period. What appears to have attracted Monet to Poly as a subject was his features - he began his career as a caricaturist, earning money to go to Paris from selling caricatures of well-known people in his home town. This makes it surprising that Monet did not produce very many portraits, as he was clearly interested in the human face. Portrait of Poly is full of character. The eyes are turned towards the viewer, the nose is rounded and the cheeks are ruddy; the hat and beard add character to the face. In Monet's own portrait he is also wearing a cap and has a beard, but there is no sense of his personality. He is defined as an artist by the canvases in the background. With the painting of Poly, it is easy to read a story into the portrait; his face invites the viewer to read it, and he requires no background to generate interest.

Monet's technique and style heavily influenced Vincent van Gogh, and Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet owes a considerable debt to Portrait of Poly