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Thomas Kinkade, a painter whose brushwork paintings of idyllic landscapes, cottages and churches have been big sellers for dealers across the United States, died on Friday, April 6, 2012 at home in Los Gatos, Calif., a family spokesman told the Associated Press. He was 54.
Kinkade claimed to be the nation's most-collected living artists, earning an estimated $100 million a year for his mostly religious landscapes. The self-described devout Christian refered to himself as the 'painter of light' and compared himself to Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell. His work was largely criticized by the art establishment. His paintings, which are sometimes visual depictions of bible verses, ranged in price from hundreds of dollars to over $10,000.
In 1982, Kinkade married his childhood sweetheart Nanette, who he often paid tribute to by hiding her name and those of their four daughters within his paintings. There is no word on Kinkade's cause of death.
(Pictured: Artist Thomas Kinkade unveils his painting, 'Prayer For Peace,' at the opening of the exhibit 'From Abraham to Jesus,' on Sept. 15, 2006 in Atlanta.)
(AP Photo / Gene Blythe)