Thomas Kinkade, an American painter of bucolic scenes, usually paints naturalistic and idealized landscapes, using an impressionist brushstroke, luminescent highlights and pastel colors. In contrast to most artists, Kinkade sells his work to the mass market and produces copies by the thousands, including printed reproductions of his paintings and other licensed products such as home furnishings or collector plates. More than 400 Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries exist as of 2010, and his collectibles also sell on the QVC shopping network.
Kinkade stopped selling original paintings in 1997, wanting to keep his original collection together. Since 1997, Kinkade has sold lithographic reproductions of his work on canvas in an array of prices ranging from $300 to $15,000. Kinkade employs a team of painters that place highlights on each print, adding an individual touch and a texture more similar to oil on canvas paintings. Kinkade creates around 12 paintings a year as of 2010.
Ascertaining the value of a Kinkade print can pose difficulties because value depends on a variety of factors: canvas size, frame, edition and demand for a particular scene. For example, a print on which Kinkade himself painted highlights—light-colored brushstrokes to add depth and texture on a painting—is worth a lot of money, but the seller would need documentation of Kinkade’s hand. Similarly, a highlighted painting costs more than an unhighlighted painting, and considerably more than a reproduction on paper (which is worth no more than $10). A painting stretched on canvas will carry this information along one of the canvas bars on the back of the painting.
Art of the South, a Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery, maintains a price guide for Kinkade prints still “in circulation,” which means that the painting is still in print and easily available. Art of the South also has a price guide for the secondary market of Kinkade’s prints no longer in circulation.
Seeking Professional Help
Call a Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery for an authoritative estimate of a print. Though the gallery may not be able or willing to consign the print, dealers can help find the fair market value, which is useful when selling prints on eBay or Craigslist. Kinkade’s website has a gallery locator, which can help in finding a local Kinkade dealer.
The mainstream art world does not hold Kinkade in high esteem. Contemporary dealers in the United States and worldwide consider Kinkade’s work overly commercialized, appealing to low cultural values and poorly made. This is an opinion exemplified by Joan Didion, who wrote: “A Kinkade painting was typically rendered in slightly surreal pastels. It typically featured a cottage or a house of such insistent coziness as to seem actually sinister, suggestive of a trap designed to attract Hansel and Gretel. Every window was lit, to lurid effect, as if the interior of the structure might be on fire.” Accordingly, individuals interested in selling or valuing their Kinkade prints should stay within the Kinkade market.
Cece Evans has worked as a professional writer and editor since 2008. She writes reviews and feature articles on contemporary art for a number of Texas-based and national publications such as the e-journal, ...might be good. Cece also works as a freelance editor and researcher. She holds a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.