As a poet, why might Browning have been interested in writing on the topic of an artist's limitations?
What do we learn first about Andrea del Sarto? Would this have been the expected introduction to a painter? How does the order in which facts about him are presented affect the audience's response?
What seems apparent in his relationship with his wife? On what issues does he seem to yield to Lucrezia?
What metaphors does he use for Lucrezia? Which of these are ominous, or suggestive of some sort of defect? Which features of her appearance have drawn him to her?
What seems to be Andrea's general mood? His temperament?
What abilities does he have? What does he aspire to be and do? What seems to be the source of his inner conflict?
What seems to be the relationship between his marriage and his inability to achieve a higher art? Does the first impede the latter, or do they both stem from a common cause?
In what ways does his monologue yield a resolution to this conflict?
What do we learn about Andrea's past? Does he excuse his prior deeds?
How is the poem changed by the fact that the poem is spoken to Lucrezia, and overheard, as it were, by the audience? Do you think there might have been differences in the way a Victorian and modern audience might have interpreted the poem?
Who/what is responsible for Andrea's plight? Is it God, his wife, circumstances, himself, or some combination of these? Who/what does he himself feel is responsible? Are we expected to agree with him?
What purpose is served by including a scene of his memories of the court of Francis at Fontainbleu? What had been his relationship with Francis, and how does this affect our view of his theft?
What had prompted him to steal from Francis? Does he feel guilt at his theft? How can you tell?
How harshly are we expected to judge his life choices, and on what grounds? At what points is he truly culpable, and at what points is he merely concessive or weak?
Is there a possibility that he can still make different choices? At what points in the poem does this seem likely?
What view of the relationship between life and art does this poem seem to suggest? Is this a universally held view?
What is the effect of the final metaphor of the holy city and its four walls, one of which is available to him to paint? Of his final words? What do you make of the juxtaposition of "As I choose" and his last words to his wife, bidding her join her lover?
What seems the final tone of the poem?
What seem to be Browning's views on the question of determinism vs. individual will?
In the tension between sympathy and judgment, toward which pole do you think readers are prompted to incline?
What are some major issues raised by the poem? Do you think they are well represented?