Françoise Bornet will forever remain the woman in Robert Doisneau's The Kiss at the Town Hall. The one who embodied French love in the 1950s died at the age of 93.
At the time of the photo, her name was still Françoise Delbart and she was a student at the Simon course in Paris when, in 1950, the photographer Robert Doisneau asked her to pose in front of the Hôtel de Ville, rue de Rivoli, with her lover Jacques Carteaud. “He said to us: ‘I’m Robert Doisneau, I think you’re quite charming. Would you agree to start your kisses again in front of me, in front of my lens?”, said Françoise Bornet.
The photo went around the world, initially in the United States since the series was purchased by the American magazine Life in 1950 to illustrate love in Paris, then in France where numerous couples reproduced the famous photo. Many believe that this is a photo taken on the spot, randomly in the street, and many people identify with this photo.
In the early 1990s, the photo of the kiss attracted envy when several couples attacked Doisneau in court. They all claim to be the couple in the photo, certainly not interested in money. “It’s my memory, it’s not theirs,” affirmed Françoise Bornet at the entrance to the court on April 28, 1993. For his part, the humanist photographer will not leave room for doubt, it is indeed well Françoise Bornet and her lover of the time who appear in her photo. “The gentleman still has lipstick,” he laughed as he left the Paris courthouse.
On April 25, 2005, the famous lover of Paris will sell one of the original prints offered by the photographer at auction for a sum of 155,000 euros. The money was to be used to finance a documentary production company and help young directors. At that time, The Kiss of the Town Hall had already sold more than 400,000 copies in poster form since its marketing in 1986. As for Françoise Bornet, she had a career in cinema and theater (fifteen films and fifteen plays). But history will remember her for this eternal kiss.