In this poem, the speaker is addressing not the reader but the artist's wife, and we read his art of their conversation and thus deduce hers. Browning's style, in his dramatic poetry, requires the reader to work and infer what is meant from what is said-which may be its opposite. In these selections from the poem 'Andrea del Sarto', we see the artist as, in essence, a weak man who has sacrificed his artistic integrity in obedience to his wife's immediate demands. We can see that del Sarto is besotted with his Lucrezia: he is eager to receive such signs of tenderness as the touch of her hand when next he gives her money; and he plainly adores her physical form:.
"-How could you ever prick those perfect ears,.
Even to put the pearl there!".
He gives, apparently as an excuse or justification for 'wasting' time looking at her, the fact that she must be the model for his pictures-presumably to remove the need to pay a model. The painter is plainly aware that he disappoints his wife, and that what he offers her is inadequate, and he has to keep buying moments of her affection. In the eighth line of the poem "And shut the money into this small hand", it is made perfectly clear that his wife's favours are available only when he pays for them, and subsequently it appears that he is not the only man who can purchase them. He attempts to outbid the 'Cousin' but ruefully acknowledges that the Cousin pleases her more, somehow, and makes no serious attempt to oppose her will.
The picture that emerges of Lucrezia, the painter's wife, is of a cold, mercenary and manipulative beauty who has no love whatever for her husband. She does not notice-or care about?-his exhaustion, and it is clear that she expects him to be constantly at work, from the way he excuses his moments of rest by telling her he will work better when he is refreshed. Lucrezia obviously considers her husband's artistic ability merely as a commodity, and has no interest in any artistic integrity or real excellence: at the beginning of the poem she has obviously got a commission for Andrea which he does not really want, and at a price set by the customer, who also intends to dictate how and when the painting is to be done.