An extract on #vscoaz
The first and most extensive recorded cleaning, revarnishing, and touch-up of the Mona Lisa was an 1809 wash and revarnishing undertaken by Jean-Marie Hooghstoel, who was responsible for restoration of paintings for the galleries of the Muse Napolon. The work involved cleaning with spirits, touch-up of colour, and revarnishing the painting. In 1906, Louvre restorer Eugne Denizard performed watercolour retouches on areas of the paint layer disturbed by the crack in the panel. Denizard also retouched the edges of the picture with varnish, to mask areas that had been covered initially by an older frame. In 1913, when the painting was recovered after its theft, Denizard was again called upon to work on the Mona Lisa. Denizard was directed to clean the picture without solvent, and to lightly touch up several scratches to the painting with watercolour. In 1952, the varnish layer over the background in the painting was evened out. After the second 1956 attack, restorer Jean-Gabriel Goulinat was directed to touch up the damage to Mona Lisa's left elbow with watercolour.
In 1977, a new insect infestation was discovered in the back of the panel as a result of crosspieces installed to keep the painting from warping. This was treated on the spot with carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment. In 1985, the spot was again treated with carbon tetrachloride as a preventive measure.
Today the Mona Lisa is considered the most famous painting in the world, but until the 20th century it was simply one among many highly regarded artworks. Once part of King Francis I of France's collection, the Mona Lisa was among the very first artworks to be exhibited in Louvre, which became a national museum after the French Revolution. From the 19th century Leonardo began to be revered as a genius and the painting's popularity grew from the mid-19th century when French intelligentsia developed a theme that it was somehow mysterious and a representation of the femme fatal. The Baedeker guide in 1878 called it "the most celebrated work of Leonardo in the Louvre", but the painting was known more by the intelligentsia than the general public.
The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa and its subsequent return, however, was reported worldwide, leading to a massive increase in public recognition of the painting. During the 20th century it was an object for mass reproduction, merchandising, lampooning and speculation, and was claimed to have been reproduced in "300 paintings and 2,000 advertisements". It has been said that the Mona Lisa was regarded as "just another Leonardo until early last century, when the scandal of the painting's theft from the Louvre and subsequent return kept a spotlight on it over several years."
From December 1962 to March 1963, the French government lent it to the United States to be displayed in New York City and Washington, D.C. It was shipped on the new liner SS France. In New York an estimated 1.7 million people queued "in order to cast a glance at the Mona Lisa for 20 seconds or so." In 1974, the painting was exhibited in Tokyo and Moscow.
In 2014, 9.3 million people visited the Louvre, Former director Henri Loyrette reckoned that "80 percent of the people only want to see the Mona Lisa."