May 9, 2012
Christian painter Thomas Kinkade died of a drug and alcohol overdose, according to an autopsy report released Monday, the Religion News Service reports. Kinkade's April 6 death was ruled accidental by the Santa Clara County coroner's office, which found high levels of alcohol and the anti-anxiety medication Diazepam in his body. According to his family, Kinkade had struggled with alcoholism. Just 54 when he died, the self-described "Painter of Light" was one of the most commercially successful artists in history, selling millions of light-infused, fairytale-like scenes depicting cottages, churches and biblical themes. Critics panned his work as "kitsch," but Kinkade's work made him a beloved figure within many Christian circles. His brother Patrick Kinkade, a professor at Texas Christian University, told the San Jose Mercury news that the artist had been troubled in recent years by a separation by his wife, business problems and critics' low opinions of his work. In 2010, the year he filed for bankruptcy, Thomas Kinkade was arrested for drunk driving.