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Poetry Archives > Andrea del Sarto - Browning

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message 1: by Jonathan (last edited Jan 29, 2017 11:35AM) (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments We will be discussing this gem from 2/12 to 2/18 and beyond.


message 2: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) | 186 comments These two complicated poems might each deserve their own topic. The length and complexity of the poems would seem to demand this.

Also they work very well as companion pieces, but not in the details of the monologues--only in the fact that these are two (real) artists who have differing ideals when it comes to what they hope that their art can do.


message 3: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments You can find "Andrea del Sarto" here:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem...


message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments What did you think of Andrea del Sarto? Who is Lucrezia and what do you make of their relationship? How do you characterize Andrea? Is he arrogant or humble? What is his major goal in life? His art? Lucrezia? Greatness?


message 5: by Ginny (new)

Ginny (burmisgal) | 217 comments Quite the choice for Valentine's Day! I can certainly see why Lucrezia might not be thrilled to
"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,"
A bit of a rant, if a quiet one. Although if my "cousin" was waiting for me outside, I can see why my husband might get a little preachy. Researching a bit, apparently Lucrezia's face was in every painting even when she wasn't the model. And she did go with other men on a regular basis.

One of the things Andrea is saying, I suppose, that if Lucrezia had been smarter, she would have loved him better, and then he could have painted like Raphael, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.


message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments Ginny wrote: "Researching a bit, apparently Lucrezia's face was in every painting even when she wasn't the model. And she did go with other men on a regular basis. "

Background info very helpful. Thanks Ginny.


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 43 comments Natalie wrote: "Also they work very well as companion pieces, but not in the details of the monologues--only in the fact that these are two (real) artists who have differing ideals when it comes to what they hope that their art can do. "

Yes indeed - this and Fra Lippo Lippi are both great poems and it's very illuminating to read them together, with the contrasting ideas of art - the way Fra Lippo Lippi wants to embrace everything and put reality into his work, but Andrea del Sarto allows himself to settle for "placid and perfect".


message 8: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 43 comments P.S., looking back at this poem after Porphyria's Lover, it's startling to come across these two lines:

Let my hands frame your face in your hair's gold,
You beautiful Lucrezia that are mine!


message 9: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments Nice observation Judy. Throughout these selections, Browning's speakers seem to view the women in their lives as possessions. In these two poems specifically, his speakers seem to prefer blondes.


message 10: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 43 comments Thanks, Jonathan. I think he also needed gold here to give the idea of the frame, and the money which also runs through the poem.

In answer to your earlier question, I think Andrea is arrogant - he constantly harps on how great he could have been, if not for being supposedly held back by Lucrezia.

But in a way he is humble at the same time - he also recognises all too clearly how far he has betrayed his art by creating 'perfect' paintings which aren't daring or revolutionary.

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

All the name dropping cuts both ways - look, these great painters liked my work, but look how far short of them I've fallen.


message 11: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments Judy wrote: "In answer to your earlier question, I think Andrea is arrogant - h..."

I think we can come up with a characterization of Browning's speakers. It seems they are all jealous, arrogant, and artistically inclined. None of them are happy.

How do they treat women? I would say they are mostly overly possessive.

The speaker in "The Soliloquy" is somewhat anomalous. He is still jealous, but he cannot "possess" women. He reads the dirty novels. It has been suggested that he watches them bathe, although he accused Brother Lawrence of this. But, he is still arrogant. Did he make any references to art? I cannot recall.


message 12: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 192 comments Andrea may be possessive, but he is contradictory, too. He is well aware that Lucrezia is not his. And this is very frustrating because he thinks she is also the culprit of all his discontent. Andrea is unsatisfied  with his life, his art and  marriage. It is because of her that he left France, it is because of her that he can't get the right inspiration for his art and it is her that, notwithstanding his possessiveness,  makes him unhappy because of her lover.
But she is his choice and so Andrea asks Lucrezia to sit by the window with him. The landscape they look at is dearly familiar to me, being that of the hills surrounding my beloved hometown, Florence. From their high building (it must be a high one to get that view), they can see the gay and lively hill of Fiesole, to the east. Time passes by and now it is dusk. At this point, they are looking west, toward the stern and sullen Mount Morello (BTW nowadays  it is also known as "the painters' gym"). Having followed the sun's route at twilight, shall we compare Andrea (and his art) to a setting sun?
In the last lines, Andrea surrenders to resignation, and lets Lucrezia go to her cousin/lover.
I can read a hint of Browning's irony here and I can't help asking to myself, what was his monologue worth for?


message 13: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Moran | 188 comments Lucia wrote: "I can read a hint of Browning's irony here and I can't help asking to myself, what was his monologue worth for? "

I wonder how much Browning did identify with his speakers. From what little I know of it, his marriage seemed to be a happy marriage. Did you find anything within the poem to suggest Browning saw his art in the same way Andrea saw his?


message 14: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Andrea del Sarto seems almost passive compared to some of Browning's other characters. The poem starts with him appeasing his wife by working for her 'friend's friend' and ends with him telling his wife to go to her lover rather than stay with him.
He seems very human in his contradictions, he wants his wife to be happy, but blames her at some level for his failure. He yearns to be able to paint with the soul of his great contemporaries, but is fixated on the imperfections in art and wants to correct them even if it'll take the heart away from the work.
I wonder if this was a personal theme to Browning as I read that he was glad that his work wasn't initially successful as it allowed him to explore and find his voice rather than produce what the public wanted.


message 15: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 192 comments Jonathan wrote: "I wonder how much Browning did identify with his speakers. From what..."

Sorry. I hope this is not overdue.
Congrats on the questions, once more very challenging.
I have read (I cannot remember where)  that Browning's marriage was a happy one, but  Browning suffered from a certain uneasiness because at that time his wife Elizabeth was much more popular and appreciated than him.  This feeling of "discomfort " regarding his wife could be something he had in common with Andrea. Is this enough to say that he identified with this painter? I don't think so. The "I" of his monologues is a "persona" he used to explore the themes he was interested in. Both Andrea and Browning were talented. So the next question may be: in spite of their skills, were they both discontent with their works? Andrea certainly was: he submitted his art to money and he was aware that his paintings lacked a soul, a grasp of real life.

"Morello's outline there is wrongly traced,

His hue mistaken; ......

Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what's a heaven for? All is silver-grey,

Placid and perfect with my art: the worse! "

To me a question such as "what does the mountain care?"  is really shocking. And  "All is silver-grey, placid and perfect with my art" tells us a great deal about Andrea's mood.
The "soul" which Andrea lacked was exactly what Browning was searching for (haven't we discussed on this in Galuppi?). I don't  think Browning's  vision of art is to be found in a particular   monologue, but it is the result (by analogy or contrast) of the  pursuit engaged through his personae.

And you? What's your opinion on this?

Sorry for having been so long. I'll try and be more synthetic next time.


message 16: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 192 comments Clari wrote: " I wonder if this was a personal theme to Browning as I read that he was glad that his work wasn't initially successful as it allowed him to explore and find his voice rather than produce what the public wanted. "

At first your comment puzzled me, because it seems to say just the opposite of my information and conclusion. But on second thoughts, they can be seen as complementary. What do you think?


message 17: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Lucia wrote: "Clari wrote: " I wonder if this was a personal theme to Browning as I read that he was glad that his work wasn't initially successful as it allowed him to explore and find his voice rather than pro..."

I think that Browning believed that humans were forever in flux and were contradictory creatures, so taking his own belief we are indeed complementing each other :)
It is possible to be jealous and pleased for a friend at the same time and perhaps as a poet he emphasises some of these emotions and takes them to their extreme?


message 18: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 192 comments Clari wrote: "I think that Browning believed that humans were forever in flux and were contradictory creatures, so taking his own belief we are indeed complementing each other :)
It is possible to be jealous and pleased for a friend at the same time and perhaps as a poet he emphasises some of these emotions and takes them to their extreme?"


Most definitely, Clari. But I don't think that the speaker fully embodies the poet.
About Elizabeth Barrett, here a link which might be interesting.

http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/e...


message 19: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Lucia wrote: "Clari wrote: "I think that Browning believed that humans were forever in flux and were contradictory creatures, so taking his own belief we are indeed complementing each other :)
It is possible to..."


Thank you for the link, is that a place you have visited? It looks very peaceful from the photos. I am learning such a lot about the poems and poets on this site, it's an incredible journey to be on, poetry is such a rich art form that I haven't given as much attention to as I perhaps should have.


message 20: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 192 comments I have never visited it, it's a bit sinister to me. But I have taken a peep through the gates. It's really monumental and grim. As for peaceful... well perhaps it is in its inner parts. You see, it is surrounded by very busy avenues.
GR is a terrific resource for me as well!


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