Photo by Milton H. Greene

Marilyn Monroe

The Peasant Sitting

Milton H. Greene

The name and reputation of Milton H. Greene as a significant art photographer of the 20 th century is widely known throughout the world. Milton was someone who was in the limelight and whose work generated interest and fame in the midst of many worlds that were connected through the lens of his camera.

Milton’s photography traced the passage of an era through the world of Hollywood and fashion. The pages of Look, Life, Town and Country, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue, were filled with his classic fashion photographs and unforgettable portraits of our beloved artists, musicians, film, television, and theatrical celebrities which have become legendary. But it was his unique friendship, business relationship and ensuing photographs of Marilyn Monroe for which he is most fondly remembered.

Milton first encountered Marilyn Monroe on assignment for Look Magazine. They quickly became close friends and ultimately formed their own film production company which produced Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl. Before marrying Arthur Miller, Monroe lived with Milton and his family in their Connecticut farmhouse. It was during this period that Greene was able to capture some of the most beautiful photographs ever taken of Marilyn Monroe, recording her moods, beauty, talent and spirits. During their ten years together, Greene photographed Monroe in countless photographic sessions including the famous "Black" sitting.

Photo by Milton H. Greene

The story behind the image…
October 1954 – Perhaps Milton and Marilyn’s most recognizable series of images, the Ballerina Sitting, was named by Time magazine in 1999 as one of the top three photographs of the 20th century, alongside Philippe Halsman’s photo of Albert Einstein and Yousuf Karsh’s Winston Churchill. Taken in Milton’s New York studio, Marilyn is wearing an ill-fitting tulle and satin dress. The design of the dress has been commonly attributed to Anne Klein, a close personal friend of the Greenes whose clothes Milton frequently borrowed. However, it was actually created by another New York designer, Herbert Kasper, while working for 7th Avenue fashion manufacturer Arnold-Fox. Milton also used Kasper’s designs at various times during the 1950s. The fitting error was because Milton’s wife, Amy, did not know Marilyn’s actual dress size, as they had yet to shop together. Apparently, the dress was two sizes too small, requiring Marilyn to hold up the front bodice. What we love is Marilyn’s ability to take it all in her stride. It was her sense of humor and deep trust in Milton that made this such an iconic series.

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