Thomas Kinkade

There's a very good chance that even if you don't own a Thomas Kinkade painting, you've seen one--in a neighbor's house, on collector plates and toys, even on air fresheners, pillows or furniture. The self-proclaimed "painter of light," who died April 6 at 54, rendered warm, comforting pastoral scenes (like Friendship Cottage, above) in bright colors that appear to shine. Though the art world cringed, for nearly two decades he ran an empire that produced millions of pieces, ranging from $99 prints to $10,000 signed canvases. "Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with the beauty of sunset, with the quiet...

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