My Last Duchess
by Robert Browning
My Last Duchess Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands. (2-4)
Notice that the first comment the Duke makes about his late wife’s portrait is that it is successful as a piece of art – it’s realistic, lifelike, and shows the painter’s skill. This artistic quality is far more important to him than any sentimental value. (We’re not sure the Duke has sentiment anyway.)
that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance (7-8)
The portrait of the Duchess seems to have captured her spirit. The Duke doesn’t describe the portrait in terms of its artistic school, colors, shapes, or brushstrokes – he describes its emotional quality.
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:" (17-19)
The Duke imagines the painter, Frà Pandolf, complimenting the Duchess by telling her that no artistic medium could actually reproduce the complex flushes and tints of her skin. In the Duke’s opinion, there is no greater compliment than the suggestion that a human being could be superior to an art object.