Margaret Keane, the American artist known for her “big eyes” paintings, has died at the age of 94.
Her portraits of children with large eyes gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s.
Keane was embroiled in a legal battle over the rights to her work after her ex-husband Walter Keane claimed credit for them, a battle told by Tim Burton’s 2014 film Big Eyes.
A statement on the artist’s Facebook page confirmed the “Mother of Big Eyes, our Queen, a Modern Master and Legend” passed away peacefully on Sunday morning at her home in Napa in California.
Jane Swigert, Keane’s daughter, told the New York Times her cause of death was heart failure.
Keane was born in 1927 in Nashville in Tennessee.
She married Walter in 1955 who began to sell her work and took credit for it as it grew in popularity and sold by the million.
While her artwork, which featured portraits of sad and large-eyed ‘waifs’, was dismissed by critics, it was loved by celebrities and the public.
She later sued Walter in 1986 and a judge ordered the pair to paint in the courtroom – Walter refused to.
Actress Amy Adams portrayed Keane in Big Eyes, which sparked further interest in the artist’s work.
Tributes have poured in for the artist on social media with a message from her Instagram page reading: “We will miss her love, creative ingenius and passion to continue to create new works up until her passing.”
While Larry Karaszewski, who co-wrote Big Eyes, posted an image of himself with Keane.
He wrote: “Grateful we all got to spend so much time getting to know her beautiful spirit. It took a decade to bring “Big Eyes” to the screen. But her tale of surviving abuse was important. She wanted the world to know the truth about her life and art.”
Keane’s Big Eyes influenced a variety of toy designs and cartoons, including Blythe dolls the cartoon Powerpuff Girls, created by Craig McCracken.