Nazi-looted paintings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries — including several works on display at the Louvre in Paris — will be returned to the heirs of their original owners, France's culture ministry has announced.

U.S.-based Thomas Selldorff will receive six paintings that his grandfather, Austrian industrialist and art collector Richard Neumann, was forced to give up after fleeing his homeland (for Paris) and subsequently Nazi-occupied France.

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The Gaetano Gandolfi painting Miracle de la Saint Eloi, seen on display at the Louvre museum in Paris on Thursday, is one of seven Nazi-looted paintings the French culture ministry is preparing to return to the heirs of their original owners. (Jacques Brinon/Associated Press)

Selldorff, 82, has fought for for their return for more than a decade, first making his restitution request back in 2001.

The artworks, several of which have been on display at the Louvre, include:

  • The Allegory of Venice by Italian painter Gaspare Diziani.
  • Saint Francis by Italian painter Francesco Fontebasso.
  • Portrait of Bartolomeo Ferracina by Italian painter Alessandro Longhi.
  • Abraham and the Three Angels by Italian painter Sebastiano Ricci.
  • The Miracle of Saint Eloi by Italian painter Gaetano Gandolfi.
  • The Apotheosis of John of Nepomuk by German painter François-Charles Palko.

A seventh painting — The Stop (or The Halt) by Dutch artist Pieter Jansz van Asch — will go to the family of Josef Wiener, a banker from Prague whose art collection was seized when he was forced into a concentration camp, where he eventually died.

The seven paintings being returned are among those once destined for a gallery Adolf Hitler, an art aficionado and one-time aspiring painter, had intended to build in the Austrian city of Linz, where he was raised.

The decision to return the seven works at once was "quite exceptional" for France, according to a representative of the French Service of Museums.

"We only restitute one work a year on average," Bruno Saunier, deputy director of collections at the French Service of Museums, told U.K. paper The Times.