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Thomas Kinkade, ‘Painter of Light,’ Dies at Age 54 – Learn About His Life and Work

Thomas Kinkade paintings
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com/Michael Buckner, Getty Images/ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

You might not know his name, but you definitely know his work. Thomas Kinkade painted quaint scenes of cottages, cobblestone paths and warm, glowing windows, seemingly lit as an invitation to come inside. He had mass appeal that made him a household name and the target of disapproval from art critics. Kinkade passed away unexpectedly on Friday at the age of 54.

Other than the fact that we can find copies of his paintings in every mall and hanging on the walls of most hotels, we don’t know a lot about Thomas Kinkade. Here are a few facts about the artist and some examples of his unique artistic style.

Thomas Kinkade's Stillwater Cottage
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

Thomas Kinkade’s biography claims he has sold more canvases than any other painter in history. His artwork hangs in an estimated one out of every 20 homes in the US.

Thomas Kinkade's classic Twilight Cottage
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

The original of a Kinkade piece that has been published will usually appraise at $100,000 to $400,000, depending on its popularity.

Thomas Kinkade's Quiet Evening
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

One of Kinkade’s most popular pieces, the original of this Disneyland 50th Anniversary painting, has been appraised at over $1 million.

Thomas Kinkade's Disneyland's 50th Anniversary painting
karendelac, eBay

Sources estimate that Kinkade’s paintings and products bring in approximately $100 million a year.

Thomas Kinkade's Country Living
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

Thomas Kinkade began his life as a professional artist by selling his prints outside a local supermarket for $25 a piece.

Thomas Kinkade's Lakeside Manor
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

Kinkade would often pay tribute to his family by incorporating their images or initials into his paintings. In 1990, he began a tradition of hiding a letter ‘N’ in his paintings to honor his wife Nanette. Some paintings include a number in the lower corner that indicates how many times the ‘N’ appears in the painting.

Thomas Kinkade's Nanette's Cottage
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

From the years 1984 through 1989, Kinkade explored a “French Impressionistic” style of painting under the brush name Robert Girrard. He created 71 different pieces of artwork under that name while still creating original Kinkade pieces at the same time.

Robert Girrard's Spring Meadows
Girrard.com

In 2008, Lionsgate Films produced a movie about the early life and artwork of Thomas Kinkade called ‘Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage.’ Young Kinkade was played by Jared Padelecki, who you’ll recognize as Sam Winchester on ‘Supernatural.’ The movie was not picked up by a studio and released directly to DVD. Kinkade created a commemorative painting that was featured in the film.

Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

In 1983, Kinkade worked as a background painter on the animated movie ‘Fire and Ice’ which was produced by Ralph Bakshi Studios. Bakshi released a statement following Kinkade’s death, saying critics miss the “true brilliance that is Kinkade.”

 

Thomas Kinkade Fire and Ice
Thomas Kinkade/Ralph Bakshi Productions

According to his website, Kinkade’s company has partnerships with many major companies like Disney, Billy Graham, Major League Baseball, Warner Brothers, NASCAR, Indianapolis 500, Elvis Presley Enterprises, The Denver Broncos, The Tim Tebow Foundation and the Biltmore Hotel corporation.

Thomas Kinkade's Gone With The Wind
ThomasKinkadeOnline.com

His cause of death is unknown, but it is believed he died of natural causes. An autopsy is pending. He leaves behind his wife Nanette, four daughters and an undeniable multimillion-dollar art legacy.

Photo by Aaron Savage
Photo by Aaron Savage
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