SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Thomas Kinkade, whose brushwork paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches were big sellers for dealers across the U.S., 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.