This photograph is a close-up study of an orchid 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.