Doisneau's Paris kiss pic sold for record sum

26th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 25 (AFP) - An original print of the classic photograph by Robert Doisneau of a couple kissing outside Paris city hall taken more than 50 years ago was sold at auction Monday for a record EUR 155,000 (USD 200,000).

PARIS, April 25 (AFP) - An original print of the classic photograph by Robert Doisneau of a couple kissing outside Paris city hall taken more than 50 years ago was sold at auction Monday for a record EUR 155,000 (USD 200,000).  

Francoise Bornet, the woman captured in the romantic 1950 "Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville" - Kiss at City Hall - sold her print of the photo at the Dassault auction house in central Paris as part of a large photography sale.  

It was bought by an unidentified Swiss national, who paid more than 10 times the initial estimated value of between EUR 15,000 and EUR 20,000 for the print bearing Doisneau's signature and stamp.  

Bidding started at EUR 10,000, but climbed quickly both in the room and on the telephones, reaching EUR 155,000 (EUR 184,960 including costs) in just three minutes to a burst of applause  

Doisneau, who was working on a photo spread about Paris lovers for Life magazine, first spotted Bornet and Jacques Carteaud at a cafe in the French capital near the school where the couple were studying theater.  

"This photo belongs to the century. The presence during the sale of the 'lover at city hall' added to the chemistry and magic," said auctioneer, Herve Poulain, highlighting the emergence of a market in art photography which did not exist 15 years ago.  

Bornet, 75, who decided to part with her print in order to fund a documentary production company, said the sale price was unbelievable.  

"It is extradordinary. We weren't expecting very much. I am very moved. For me this sale marks a new beginning. I will buy a print so as never to forget," she told AFP.  

Contrary to popular belief, the young lovers were not captured in a spontaneous moment of romantic bliss, but instead agreed to pose for Doisneau.  

After appearing in Life, the photograph remained in the archives of the Rapho photo agency, for which Doisneau worked, for more than 30 years before being snapped up by a poster company.  

Worldwide sales of the poster helped confirm the image of Paris as the city of passion and romance. By 1992, some 410,000 copies of the poster had already been sold worldwide - a global record.  

The photo also sparked controversy, with several couples claiming they were the subjects of Doisneau's work. In 1992, one couple even went on television to stake their claim to a piece of Doisneau's fame.  

The photographer set the record straight that same year, saying in an interview: "I would have never dared to photograph people like that. Lovers kissing in the street, those couples are rarely legitimate."  

After more than 40 years in silence, Bornet surfaced and met Doisneau, showing him the original print he had sent her just a few days after the shoot.  

Bornet and the now late Carteaud, who became a wine producer, did not stay together.  

Photographs by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, William Klein and Maxime du Camp were also going under the hammer at the Dassault auction house on Monday.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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