Robert Browning and painting : prolegomena to a reading of Browning's poetry
Browning's poetry is notable for the number and importance of its references to other arts. This thesis attempts to assess the influence of painting and painterly ideas on Browning's poetry, with special reference to his contacts with painting in the early part of his life. His father's taste for and knowledge of painting are discussed, and connections are made between them and formal or technical details of Browning's style. His father's own artistic abilities and his interest in engraving are also considered in this light. This entails some consideration of the methodology of comparison between painting and poetry, both as Browning would have known it and, with reference to ray own explorations, in a modern context. Stress is laid on the fact that Browning's father's taste provided the poet with an alternative set of artistic models to those Romantic literary ones which are usually assumed to be of primary importance to his art. Specific comparison is made between features of Browning's work and Hogarth's, who was his father's favourite artist. This leads into a consideration of Browning's use of irony, based on principles shared with visual art. The final chapter deals with aspects of Browning's artistic relationship with his friend, Lord Leighton. Throughout, the comparisons of particular poems with paintings are intended rather as examples of Browning's usage than as claims of specific and confined borrowing or influence.