A long-awaited art show featuring seven paintings looted by the Nazis has opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The rightful owners have waited decades to get the artwork back.

Concordia University, McGill and Hebrew University in Jerusalem hosted the return ceremony Wednesday for the seven Old Master and 19th century paintings that have been recovered so far.

The centrepiece of the event was the unveiling of Girl from the Sabine Mountains by Franz-Xaver Winterhalter, the most famous European court painter of his day.

The canvas was transported to Germany from the United States and was returned to the universities after a precedent-setting battle for its ownership waged and won in the American courts.

The Nazis were infamous for stealing art, raiding museums and pillaging private collections during their reign of terror during the Second World War.

In the decades since, much of the art has been returned to its rightful owners or their estates.