American girl in Italy 1951

American Girl in Italy
1951 by Ruth Orkin

Toronto. You may recall this photograph or its maker, Ruth Orkin, but do you recall the name of the girl or the circumstances? No? Well, the girl is artist Ninalee (Allen) Craig who died recently at age 90 in Toronto where she has lived since 1998. Ninalee was born in Indiana and eventually moved here. In 1951, the 23 year old American was visiting Florence Italy on her own. She was staying in an inexpensive Florence hotel. Coincidentally another American girl was also staying there – photographer Ruth Orkin.

On a short walk around the city, the couple paired up as subject and artist to create this iconic photograph. A seconds earlier shot was sold by Orkin to the American newspaper Herald Tribune for $15. Over the years, Allen (now Craig), the subject of the picture, has stated she enjoyed the attention and was not insulted by it. Orkin, who became a long time friend of Ninalee, was six years older than she. Ruth Orkin  died in  1985.  You can google the internet for details about Ninalee Craig or just read the obituary in Monday’s Globe and Mail. Please note that the picture itself is copyrighted by the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive (director Mary Engel).

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