Thomas Kinkade, the prolific painter of bucolic and idealized scenes who estimated that his mass-produced works hung in one out of 20 American homes, died on Friday at his home in Los Gatos, Calif. He was 54.
He appeared to have died of natural causes, according to a statement that his family issued to The San Jose Mercury News.
Though often disdained by the fine art establishment, Mr. Kinkade built a decorative art empire by creating sentimental paintings that were, for the most part, relatively inexpensive and resonated with the desires of homeowners who did not ordinarily buy art. He sold his work directly, through his own franchise galleries or on cable television home shopping networks, and eventually online.
Much of his work reflected Christian themes or visions of a traditional, rustic America residing in comforting solitude. The paintings — of homey cottages and rural churches and rivers flowing gently through brilliant foliage — rarely included people, which allowed the owners to project themselves into the scenes.