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Fra Lippo Lippi Summary | Robert Browning

Fra Lippo Lippi Summary | Robert Browning

Writer’s Intro:

Robert Browning (1812-1889, Italy, Venice) was an English poet and playwright. He was known as one of the best Victorian poets because he was so good at writing dramatic monologues. Fra Lippo Lippi was another famous poem by Robert Browning. So, we had written the summary of Fra Lippo Lippi so that you can learn easily the theme of Fra Lippo Lippi.


Fra Lippo Lippi explores the themes of art, love, and religion. The poet feels that art’s purpose is to portray the intangible spiritual beauty of God’s creatures by depicting their natural physical beauty.


Fra Lippo Lippi Summary

Opening of the summary

In “Fra Lippo Lippi”, Robert Browning satirizes the essentially corrupt relationship between the Italian Renaissance tradition of the art support, the Medici family, and the Roman Catholic Church. The poem exposes the tradition of art support and then poses his own theory about the role of art and artist in society. 


Browning suggests here that church policy transforms art into misinformation rather than creative expression. These devotional works do not promote a critical awareness of life because the friars (a member of any of certain religious orders of men) compel Lippo Lippi to create ideal representations of life, claiming that art should depict God’s desires rather than human folly. 

The middle of the summary

Because realistic art does not encourage obedient adherence to religious doctrine, Lippi informs the reader that the friars reject it, but Fra clearly believes that the spiritual and intellectual growth of an individual is not helped by devotional art. Lippi is much smarter than his patrons and superiors because he puts more faith in the general public. He also attacks idealized devotional art by going on and on about how the men in the church lie about their morals. It is important to note that Browning does not debunk belief in God; he criticizes those religious authorities who speak moral imperatives to the common people which they themselves do not follow. Browning uses this kind of double standard to show his readers that idealized, artistic depictions of life do not lead people to blind devotion.


Browning makes fun of the monks’ hypocrisy and attacks a theory of art that says ordinary people can’t develop a conscious awareness of life and art. Fra Lippo Lippi thinks, like the other friars, that art should take moments from the life and turn them into important points of beauty. Yet, Browning suggests that the traditional, idyllic definition of beauty supported by the church turns art into misinformation. Instead, he proposes that honest, realistic portrayals of life should be directed into these aesthetic moments.

The ending of the summary of Fra Lippo Lippi

Lippo Lippi emphasizes the hypocrisy of his position because the inspiration for his lofty, religious paintings comes from lowered sources.  The Fra invokes the Medici name, relying upon the well-established social chain of command to protect himself. Above all others, the Medici family spread the system of art patronage which Fra Lippo Lippi condemns. They show how low the Roman Catholic Church has fallen. Thus, in “Fra Lippo Lippi” Browning relentlessly indicts religious hypocrisy and discriminatory conceptions of art with his realistic, satirical portrait of one monk. In this, the poet reflects the increasingly democratic civilization of nineteenth-century British society.

This is the end of our content Fra Lippo Lippi Summary. Thank you for reading the content. Anyway, if you want to read more summaries from Victorian Poetry, please check the following articles:

Tithonus Summary
Oenone Summary
Locksley Hall
My Last Duchess
Andrea Del Sarto

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