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This image of a ritualised, sado-masochistic, torture scene has strong art historical and Catholic overtones. A common image in medieval and renaissance painting was the martyrdom of St Peter, who was crucified upside-down (at his own bidding, because he did not wish to be compared with Christ). Mapplethorpe was well aware of the continuing influence that his Catholic upbringing had upon him and his art. As Paul Schmidt wrote in his introduction to Mapplethorpe’s notorious ‘X Portfolio’: ‘In a secular age, these images are all we have left. Here are the images of our modern martyrdom: our Scourgings, our Crownings with Thorns, our Crucifixions.’