Can love outlast death?

Love and desire sizzle in this sculpture showcasing Venus and Adonis. Venus is desperately in love with Adonis, a handsome mortal. However, fate has it that goddess of love will not hold onto her man. Preferring the hunt, Adonis is injured by a wild boar and dies—take that, Adonis, for leaving her! An anemone flower sprouts from his blood, symbolizing eternal love.

Venus and Adonis / Massimiliano Soldani Benzi

Venus and Adonis (detail), Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, bronze, about 1700. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 93.SB.4

Artist Soldani-Benzi transforms bronze into flesh full of movement, emotion, and suffering, demonstrating the technical virtuosity that made him one of the finest sculptors of Baroque Florence.

What do you think: Is there such a thing as immortal love, even among mortals? And if love fades in our real lives, does it last in art?

Question of the Week is a series inspired by our Masterpiece of the Week tours. Featuring an open and upbeat discussion among visitors and gallery teachers, the tours feature a new object and pose a new question each week. Soldani-Benzi’s Venus and Adonis is the object for the week of August 16, 2011.