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'Painter Of Light' Thomas Kinkade Dies At 54

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And we're going to take a moment now to remember painter Thomas Kinkade. He died Friday at age 54, and left behind a legacy of decorative artwork that celebrated a rustic America often lit up with streams of light.

THOMAS KINKADE: Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with the beauty of sunset, with the quiet of nature, with a warm and cozy cottage.

MONTAGNE: That's Kinkade speaking with CBS in 2001. Apparently, so many people did identify with all those pleasant things that Kinkade was able to claim to be the world's most collected living artist. His sentimental scenes became an empire: mugs, calendars, figurines and millions of framed reproductions.

Kinkade was known for tirelessly marketing his work - here, on YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

KINKADE: "The Great North," which is a new release of an older painting, a painting I did many years ago that celebrates the beauty of the north country. So, since you live in the...

MONTAGNE: The marketing and subject matter paid off. Thomas Kinkade's various products were said to earn $100 million a year in sales and be in something like 10 million American homes.

And that's the business news on MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.