Florence museum urges Germany to return painting stolen by Nazis

Uffizi in Florence

Uffizi in Florence

Vase of Flowers, a still life by the Dutch master Jan van Huysum, is now held by a Germany family.

According to the gallery, Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany originally bought the work at the start of the 19th Century.

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is trying to retrieve a painting stolen decades ago by Nazis during the Second World War.

The oil canvas hung in the city's Pitti Palace until 1940, when it was evacuated to a nearby village following the outbreak of World War Two.

The painting resurfaced in 1991 following German reunification, but all efforts to return it have failed.

Since then, Italian authorities have asked for the painting back and the demands have escalated to offering a ransom and the prosecutors in Florence have opened an investigation.

Mr Schmidt said "the painting is already the inalienable property of the Italian state, and thus can not be "bought".

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Eike Schmidt said in a New Year's appeal on Tuesday that the still-life "Vase of Flowers" by Dutch artist Jan van Huysum is in the hands of a German family who hasn't returned it despite numerous appeals.

As Germany took over Europe during World War II, its troops, often at the request of Nazi leaders, stole artwork and other valuables and brought them back to Germany.

Germany hasn't yet responded to Schmidt's appeal.

Mr Schmidt - himself German - has called on Germany to abolish the statute of limitations on works stolen by the Nazis so all looted art can return to its "legitimate owners".

"Germany should not apply the statute of limitations to works of art stolen during the war".

At the moment a black and white reproduction of the painting is symbolically exhibited in the Sala dei Putti at Palazzo Pitti with a caption explaining that it is stolen.

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