In my French class we were asked to write the story behind a photograph. I can’t find the image online currently, but it was Cour Carree du Louvre by Robert Doisneau, and it depicted a small boy playing with a dog in the Louvre courtyard, oblivious to his surroundings. Here’s the English version – obviously, the French version was more lyrical, more poetic and wittier.
She had named him Marc, after the great historian and resistance hero, Marc Bloch. But he was not a chip off the did not take after his namesake, showing little interest in books or education. Aged 8, he was not a naughty child, but he was only interested in playing with his friends.
One Saturday, she lost patience with her son as he rushed about their small flat and she said to him: “You should go to the Louvre. All of France’s culture and history is there, it is stuff you need to know.” He was reluctant, but finally agreed to go. Of course in those days parents were happy for their children to travel about on their own, so he walked there.
As Marc arrived at the main courtyard of the Louvre, he fully intended to go inside, though he was equally resolved to dislike it. At that moment he was distracted by a small black dog that ran up to him, barking in a friendly way. Immediately any idea of wasting his day in a museum vanished, and Marc played with the dog (who he had named Leonardo) for hours. Eventually he collapsed, exhausted, onto the ground but eager to carry on playing the dog climbed up on to his chest.
When he got home, she asked him if he had discovered anything at the Louvre. “Leonardo” he replied.
“Ah, La Joconde?”
“No, the dog.”