Florence museum urges Germany to return painting stolen by Nazis

Vase of Flowers by Jan van Huysum was taken during second world war

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence has called on the German government to help return an 18th-century painting stolen by Nazi soldiers during the second world war.

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

“Because of this affair, the wounds of the second world war and Nazi terror are not yet healed,” said Eike Schmidt, the museum’s director, who is German. “Germany has a moral duty to return the works to our museum and I hope this will be done as soon as possible, along with every other work of art looted by the Nazi army.”

The 47x35cm painting was originally put on display in Florence in 1824 after it was bought by Grande Duke Leopoldo II for his art collection.

It hung in the Pitti Palace until 1940, when it was moved to a nearby village after the outbreak of war. German soldiers seized the painting in 1944 as they retreated towards northern Italy after the Allied landings at Anzio and the liberation of Rome, and all trace of it was lost until 1991, shortly after German reunification.

Schmidt said that despite many requests by the Italian state, the German family that held the painting had failed to return it. He said several “intermediaries” had tried to sell the painting back, and the most recent “outrageous offer” had prompted the Florence prosecutor to open an investigation.

“The painting is already owned by the Italian state and therefore cannot be bought,” he said.

Schmidt posted on social media: “An appeal to Germany for 2019: We wish that the famous Vase of Flowers by Dutch painter Jan van Huysum that was stolen by Nazi soldiers be returned to the Uffizi Gallery.”

A photo of the painting was put up at the Pitti Palace on Tuesday accompanied by the word “stolen” in Italian, German and English.


Angela Giuffrida in Rome

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Italian police reveal '€3m painting' stolen from church was a copy
Masterpiece by 17th-century artist Brueghel the Younger was swapped to foil heist

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

13, Mar, 2019 @11:01 PM

Article image
Getty Museum to send stolen terracotta statues back to Italy
Along with Orpheus and the Sirens, four other relics are also likely to be returned to Rome from US

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

12, Aug, 2022 @12:52 PM

Article image
Naples museum director begins burning art to protest at lack of funding

Antonio Manfredi has already destroyed a painting and vowed to incinerate one artwork every day until his demands are met

John Hooper in Rome

18, Apr, 2012 @2:02 PM

Article image
Klimt art thieves confess to stealing then returning painting
Portrait of a Lady was hidden in same Italian gallery from which it went missing in 1997

Angela Giuffrida Rome correspondent

21, Jan, 2020 @2:27 PM

Article image
Museum rivalry ‘could make Dutch Vermeer show last of its kind’
Rijksmuseum aims to bring together all the works by Girl with a Pearl Earring painter that are fit to travel

Daniel Boffey in Brussels

02, Dec, 2021 @10:05 AM

Article image
Beyoncé and Jay-Z help Louvre museum break visitor record in 2018
More than 10m visited Paris museum, with interest boosted by music video filmed there

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

03, Jan, 2019 @10:37 AM

Article image
Criticism mounts of ‘climate killer’ modern art museum in Berlin
Calls for construction on Museum of 20th-century Art to be halted until energy efficiency issues addressed

Kate Connolly in Berlin

27, Nov, 2022 @1:50 PM

Article image
The mysterious Munich recluse who hoarded €1bn of Nazis' stolen art
Cornelius Gurlitt stacked suspected looted works in Schwabing apartment among juice cartons and 1980s tinned food

Philip Oltermann in Munich

04, Nov, 2013 @7:32 PM

Article image
Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum
Thieves have stolen the £5m Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring by the famous artist from the Singer Laren museum

Daniel Boffey in Brussels

30, Mar, 2020 @5:10 PM

Article image
Magritte painting stolen at gunpoint
Olympia, a portrait of the artist's wife, taken in raid on former home of the Belgian painter, now an exclusive museum

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris

24, Sep, 2009 @1:13 PM