Francoise Bornet: Woman in Robert Doisneau’s Paris kiss photo dies aged 93

The woman featured in Robert Doisneau's photograph "Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville" (Kiss at City Hall), Francoise Bornet and her husband pose, 25 April 2005Getty Images

The woman who appeared in a famous photograph of a couple kissing on the street in Paris has died aged 93.

Francoise Bornet was one half of the young couple seen in The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, taken in 1950 by photographer Robert Doisneau.


The black-and-white picture of the pair embracing on the street became a huge commercial success in the 1980s.

However, it also prompted a legal row after other couples claimed to be the people featured in the photo.

The image looked as if it could have been taken spontaneously – capturing a moment of romance reflective of the city.

But the photo was, in fact, staged – something which became apparent after it became a huge commercial hit in the 1980s, appearing on posters seen in young people’s bedrooms around the world.

Such was its success that several couples came forward claiming to be the man and woman featured in the shot, and seeking compensation for use of their image.

Some of them took legal action over rights to the image they claimed they featured in, but the cases were thrown out of court.

The photo’s resurgence prompted Bornet to step forward and set the story straight. She and her then boyfriend Jacques Carteaud – both drama students – had been approached by Robert Doisneau in 1950 after he saw them kissing.

Bornet recalled that he told them he had loved the way their embrace looked and asked if they could do it again.

The photographer had been taking pictures around the city to illustrate an article in Life magazine about love in Paris. The couple were paid a small fee for their participation.

To prove that her story was true and that she was the woman in the picture, Bornet produced an original copy of the photo signed by Doisneau himself.

The shot had languished in the archives until it was spotted by a sharp-eyed commercial agent in the early 1980s, ultimately becoming one of the most famous images of the city.

In 2005, Bornet sold the copy of the original photo given to her by Doisneau at an auction, fetching €150,000 (£130,000).

Bornet and her former boyfriend split up shortly after the photograph was taken. She went on to have a career in film.

Doisneau died in 1994, while Carteaud – Bornet’s former boyfriend – died in 2006.

Journalist Margot Nicodème reported Bornet had “passed away on Christmas Day, leaving behind her a kiss for eternity”.

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