Caravaggio in extended metaphor
In Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, Andrew Graham-Dixon compares the artist to the light lights and dark darks of his paintings.
Notice how he extends the metaphor:
“He was one of the most electrifyingly original artists ever to have lived …”
“He lived much of his life as a fugitive, and that is how he is preserved in history — a man on the run, heading for the hills, keeping to the shadows.”
“But he is caught, now and again, by the sweeping beam of a searchlight.”
“His youth is the least documented period of his existence — the darkest time, in every sense, of this life of light and darkness.”
“But in its shadows may be found some of the most important clues to the formation of his turbulent personality.”
“Suddenly here is Caravaggio, caught in the flashbulb glare of a barber’s memory: ‘This painter is a stocky young man, about twenty or twenty-five years old, with a thin black beard, thick eyebrows and black eyes, who goes dressed all in black, in a rather disorderly fashion, wearing black hose that is a little bit threadbare, and who has a thick head of hair, long over his forehead.’”
“Bellori, echoing Vasari’s idea that artists resemble their own work, wrote that ‘Caravaggio’s style corresponded to his physiognomy and appearance; he had a dark complexion and dark eyes, and his eyebrows and hair were black; this colouring was naturally reflected in his paintings … driven by his own nature, he retreated to the dark style that is connected to his disturbed and contentious temperament.’”
Extend your metaphors.
To extend a metaphor:
- Find your base. In this case, light and dark.
- Explore your base. Go a level or two deeper into your base and list the key elements you find there. Graham-Dixon comes up with words like electrifying, shadows, flashbulb, searchlight, disturbed and contentious.
- Make a metaphor. Compare your target to your base, as Graham-Dixon does here.
How can you extend a metaphor like Graham-Dixon?