This photograph is a close-up study of an orchid in a white rectangular vase against a plain dark background. In the last years of his life Mapplethorpe made a number of images of flowers. This work is a typical example of this subject matter, in which the highly detailed images are suggestive of sexual organs, both male and female. For his `portraits? of flowers, Mapplethorpe frequently chose lilies, orchids and tulips whose fleshy petals suggest the texture of human skin. Captured in exquisite detail, Mapplethorpe used photography to preserve their ephemeral and fleeting beauty.