Famed painter Thomas Kinkade dies at age 54

Artist Thomas Kinkade unveils his painting, "Prayer For Peace," at the opening of the exhibit "From Abraham to Jesus," Friday, Sept. 15, 2006, in Atlanta. The exhibit guides visitors through biblical stories with more than 300 artifacts, videos, paintings and an audio tour voiced by an archaeologist with a sense of humor. On display will be a portion of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as what researchers believe to be a box that held the remains of a son of Simon the Cyrene, who, according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, carried the cross for Jesus on his way to Calvary. (AP Photo/Gene Blythe)

April 7, 2012 5:57:27 AM PDT
California artist Thomas Kinkade, known for his scenes of cottages, country gardens and churches in dewy morning light, died Friday, a family spokesman said.

Kinkade, 54, died at his home in Los Gatos in the San Francisco Bay Area of what appeared to be natural causes, David Satterfield said.

Kinkade's sentimental paintings, with their scenes of cottages, country gardens and churches in dewy morning light, were beloved by middlebrow America but reviled by the art establishment.

The paintings generally depict tranquil scenes with lush landscaping and streams running nearby. Many contain images from Bible passages.

Kinkade, a self-described devout Christian, claimed to be the nation's most collected living artist. His paintings and spin-off products were said to fetch some $100 million a year in sales, and to be in 10 million homes in the United States.

"I'm a warrior for light," he told the San Jose Mercury News in 2002, in reference to his technical skills but also the medieval practice of using light to symbolize the divine. "With whatever talent and resources I have, I'm trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel."

Before Kinkade's Media Arts Group went private in the middle of the past decade, the company took in $32 million per quarter from 4,500 dealers across the country 10 years ago, according to the Mercury News. The cost of his paintings range from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000. No other details were immediately available.

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