As Browning explained to a literary group, the Duke's "design" in mentioning Fra Pandolf at the beginning of "My Last Duchess" is "To have some occasion for telling the story, and illustrating part of it." Although accurate when fully understood, his explanation is subtly misleading in that it permits commentators to dismiss the Duke's reference to the painter as an unimportant conversational gambit. A typical example is B. R. Jerman's recent suggestion that the "first mention of the artist is, as it were, bait. The envoy may have exclaimed, 'What a beautiful portrait! Who on earth did...
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