Andrea del Sarto (poem)

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"Andrea del Sarto (Called "The Faultless Painter")" is a poem by Robert Browning (1812-1889) published in his 1855 poetry collection, Men and Women. The poem is a dramatic monologue, a form of poetry for which Browning is famous.


"Andrea del Sarto" is a poem written by Robert Browning (5/17/1812-12/12/1889)[1] and is based on Andrea del Sarto (7/16/1486-9/29/1530), originally named Andrea d'Angolo,[2] a renaissance artist. "Andrea del Sarto" is one of Browning's dramatic monologues that shows that Browning is trying to create art that allows for the body and the soul to both be portrayed rather than just the body or just the soul.[3] Andrea del Sarto is in blank verse and mainly uses iambic pentameter.[4][5]


But do not let us quarrel any more,
No, my Lucrezia; bear with me for once:
Sit down and all shall happen as you wish.
You turn your face, but does it bring your heart?
I'll work then for your friend's friend, never fear,
Treat his own subject after his own way,
Fix his own time, accept too his own price,
And shut the money into this small hand
When next it takes mine. Will it? tenderly?
Oh, I'll content him,—but to-morrow, Love!
I often am much wearier than you think,
This evening more than usual, and it seems
As if—forgive now—should you let me sit
Here by the window with your hand in mine
And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole,
Both of one mind, as married people use,
Quietly, quietly the evening through,
I might get up to-morrow to my work
Cheerful and fresh as ever. Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!
Your soft hand is a woman of itself,
And mine the man's bared breast she curls inside.

-Lines 1-22 of Andrea del Sarto[6]


Two thirds of Browning's poetic works are written in unrhymed pentameters.[5] Browning is considered one of the foremost innovators of the dramatic monologue, though he was little known by contemporary Victorians. Critics of his time commented on his lack of rhyme scheme, known as blank verse. Browning is also known for his originality, dramatic style and fresh subject matter for the time, which complimented his lack of rhyme scheme.[7] Browning places his reader in the scene through his use of temporal adverbs. The first line is an example, where the narrator suggests "But do not let us quarrel any more." Any more, as used here is a temporal adverb which also functions as a subordinate progressive. This literary tactic puts the reader inside the action by allowing them to look both forwards and backwards in the situation. Browning creates an internal world for his reader by giving them insight into how the narrator interprets the whole scene, not just the words spoken: line four, "You turn your face, but does it bring your heart?" refers to how the narrator is interpreting Lucrezia's body language.[8] Some literary analysts claim Browning adapted his versification to his characters; Andrea del Sarto is no exception. It explores aestheticism and human reciprocity, and as a result is written in near perfect iambic pentameter.[5][8]

Critical Analysis[edit]

According to literary scholar Roma A. King the entire poem is “between asserted artistic and masculine virility and a steadily increasing awareness of debility.” He backs this up by describing the way that lines 21-22 he is trying to suggest his own masculine strength.

"Your soft hand is a woman of itself,/
And mine the man’s bared breast she curls inside."

However, later undertones hint at a suspecting of lacking and not being enough, as Lucrezia still chooses her lover over her husband, even though he is making her a romantic suit. He quickly falls into a class of literary males who lack masculinity and passion, the only thing that makes him truly different from Prufrock or any similar characters is that he is aware of his dilemma. King discusses del Sarto's lack of virility, as he describes his wife the way a painted would, with lines and shapes, as opposed to a husband or person of romantic interest in lines 122-124.

"But had you—oh, with the same perfect brow,/
And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth,/
And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird"

Instead of images of interest and arousal, he speaks of her as a figure to be painted.[9]

This is much the same as in the rest of the work, according to Stefan Hawlin, another literary scholar. He believes that Browning is explaining, through this poem, that del Sarto is not as famous as many other artists because he “shies away from the vivid and necessarily sexual fullness of life, and the spirituality that is a part of that fullness.” Hawlin also explains that his wife's beauty is without a soul to del Sarto, its only a beauty on the outside, which perfectly matches the state of del Sarto's art, which is beautiful, but spiritually empty.[10]

Settings and Context[edit]

Andrea del Sarto is based in Florence, Italy when Andrea del Sarto was alive (1486-1530). During his life Browning struggled with his religious view point, at 13 he announced he was atheist, following in the foot steps of Percy Bysshe Shelley, the poet he looked up to.[11] As Browning got older he was considered a Theist.Browning spent much of his work exploring and questioning religion through his dramatic monologues.[12] Browning's main audience for all his poetry was his beloved wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Browning based del Sarto's love for his wife, Lucrezia, on his own love for his wife.[13] Andrea del Sarto explores broad themes like if all human interactions are governed by aesthetic or exchange value, failure, whether one's wife is a possession, and morality in general.[6][8] Browning chose to use painters as his subjects during the renaissance because art was much easier to access than writing was, writing was only accessible to those of wealth.[14]


Andrea del Sarto was born in Florence, Italy on July 16, 1486 and died in Florence, Italy on September 29, 1530.[2] del Sarto was the pupil of Piero di Cosimo.[2] del Sarto was influenced by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Fra' Bratolommoeo.[2] He began to produce work in 1506.[2] His work stems from traditional Quattrocento painting.[2] del Sarto was revered for his art, some called him Andrea senza errori, the unerring. Browning cedes the paintings are free of errors, but that alone does not make a piece of art special or evocative.[6]


  1. ^ Unknown, Unknown. "Robert Browning". The Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Shearman, John. "Andrea del Sarto,". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britiannica. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  3. ^ Benvenuto, Richard (1973). "Lippo and Andrea: The Pros and Contra of Browning's Realism". Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 14 (4): 643–652. 
  4. ^ Unknown, Unknown. [• "Robert Browning's Poetry"]. Sparknotes. Sparknotes. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  5. ^ a b c Hatcher, Harlan Henthorne (1928). The Versification of Robert Browning. Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State University. p. 33. 
  6. ^ a b c Loucks, James F.; Stauffer, Andrew M. (2007). Robert Browning's Poetry (Second ed.). Norton Publishing. pp. 236–242. 
  7. ^ Black, Joseph; Conolly, Leonard Trent; Flint, Kate (2013). The Broadview Anthology of British Literature (Concise, Volume B ed.). Broadview Press. p. 733. 
  8. ^ a b c Martin, Loy D. (1985). Browning's Dramatic Monologues and the Post-Romantic Subject. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 86,139. 
  9. ^ King, Jr, Roma A. (1964). The Bow and the Lyre: The Art of Robert Browning. Ann Arbor Paperbacks. pp. 11–17. 
  10. ^ Hawlin, Stefan (2002). Robert Browning. London: Routledge. p. 87. ISBN 0415222311. 
  11. ^ Unknown, Unknown. "Robert Browning". The Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Unknown, Uknnown. "Robert Browning, a Religious Poet?". Victorian Poetry. Victorian Poetry. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Erickson, Lee (1984). Robert Browning: His Poetry and His Audiences. United Kingdom: Cornell University Press. pp. 132–191. 
  14. ^ Unknown, Unknown. "Robert Browning's Poetry". Sparknotes. Sparknotes. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 

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