Robert Browning in his dramatic monologues is particularly interested in the study of the psychological conflicts of men and women. In many of his poems, he has dealt with the Italian Renaissance artists who evaluated their lives in terms of success and failure. The most famous poems in which he deals with art and artist or the life of the artists are ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ and ‘Andrea De Sarto’.
Fra Lippo Lippi is one of Browning’s happiest expressions of his belief in art and the joy of living. Fra Lippo Lippi was an artist who had to work in a monastery to paint the faces of the Saints and Angels. He tells the watchman who captivates him that the function of the artist is not to ignore the body and concentrate on souls, but to give equal importance that it deserves. He believes that an artist should paint all of god’s works and consider it a crime to allow any truth escapes him. The world is not meant to be despised and ignored as shameful and meaningless. So Fra Lippo says:
‘This world is no blot for us
Nor blank-it means intensity it means good’.
It is gist of Browning’s philosophy. According to him, it is right to enjoy this world, for God has given it to us. But the religious father of the monastery ordered him to paint only the soul of man and not the body. They advised Lippo to discard the world. But Fra Lippo believes that this world is not meant to be scorned as a disgrace and meaningless.
‘Andrea de Sarto’ also deals with art and artist’s life. The poem presents a study of the mind of an artist who is dragged by the sense of failure and frustration. Andrea has been a faultless painter, but he failed so far as the spirituality of art was concerned. The main reason for his failure is his ill-fated marriage, marriage with a loveless woman named Lucrezia. From the technical point of view he is perfect but his paintings are not spiritually developed. Andrea claims technically imperfect but their art is life-like. Andrea lacks the elevation of mind, which gives animation to an artist’s work. At the end of the poem Andrea comforts himself with the thought that god will judge his intentions and give him reward for him artistic endeavor.
Browning believes that poetry or any form of art is closely related to life and its problems. For him art is for life’s sake and his poems on art, philosophy and religion indicate his stand that poetry and art should be intimately in touch with reality and life.