English Literature » Notes » Browning’s View on Art and Artist as Reflected in the Poem ‘Andrea Del Sarto’
Andrea Del Sarto by Robert Browning

Browning’s View on Art and Artist as Reflected in the Poem ‘Andrea Del Sarto’

Andrea Del Sarto is a famous poem of Robert Browning. Andrea Del Sarto is an artist. But he could not be a true artist because he had some drawbacks in him. He lacks the truer light of God. Through the presentation of his character the poet wants to say that an artist must have an elevated mind. Andrea did not possess the elevated mind. So, as an artist he could not rise to the higher position of Raphael and Michael Angelo.

The protagonist Andrea himself claims that he has got the highest technical perfection in art. He says to his faithless wife Lucrezia that he can paint very easily those painting which other artists strive to do for heir whole life but in vain. In spite of his having technical skill in art, he could not go shoulder to shoulder with the great artists like Leonardo do Vinci, Angelo and Raphael. Andrea had no truer light of God in his art. He could not show that skill in art by which spirituality could be aroused in the mind of the people. His art was related to materialism and mercenary monetary motive. With the money obtained from art, he wanted to satisfy his faithless wife. On the other hand, other artists had this truer light of God which they had shown in their paintings. That is why, they could reach the highest peak of glory in art.

Andrea realizes the fact that on artist must have a lofty aim, but Andrea did not have this quality. His purpose of art was not lofty. Andrea became infatuated with his wife Lucrezia. To gain her heart, he degrades art and became materialistic. But to his utter frustration, he could not get the true love of Lucrezia. Browning has expressed his view that an artist must have a lofty aim to achieve the divine glory. Andrea says-

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?

Andrea blames Lucrezia for his failure in art. Andrea love her whole-heartedly but Lucrezia was indifferent to him. But after a short while he tones down. Very soon he could find his own fault. His fault is that he had a great weakness towards Lucrezia which leads him to the lower position of his art. He could not broaden his spiritual outlook. He could not develop his own spiritual personality. Because of his spiritual degradation, he embezzled the money of king Francis I of France. Andrea had his kingly days in the court of king Francis I. That time he was inspired by the king and the popes. If he had continued his stay at the court, he could have established himself as an artist and as a formidable rival to Raphael. But very soon he returned to Lucrezia. Even he did not show the filial duty to his parents. So, it is clear that he was confirmed only with the earthly gains.

Browning’s view regarding art and artist particularly in the poem Andrea Del Sarto is that an artist must have noble mind and lofty aim. Then he will be able to achieve the highest glory as an artist. Thus, Browning has revealed his idea regarding art and artist in the poem Andrea Del Sarto.

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