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Margaret Keane

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Margaret Keane is an American artist. She is an illustrator and painter, and mainly draws women and children in oil or mix-media. Her works are instantly recognizable (although often imitated) from the doe-eyed children that are depicted in the drawings.


Margaret D. H. Keane was born 1927 in Tennessee, a state in the Bible Belt. Margaret herself attributes her deep respect for the Bible and inspirations of her artwork to the relationship with her Methodist grandmother. She eventually became a Jehovah's Witness, which in her own words, "changed her life".

In the 1960s, Margaret Keane's artwork was sold under the name of her husband of the time, Walter Keane, her second husband. Many reasons might be put forward to explain this, but it was also one of the reasons they divorced. Not wanting to relinquish the rights to the artwork, Walter and Margaret's divorce proceeding went all the way to Federal court. At the hearing, Margaret painted in front of the judge to prove her point. In 1965, the courts sided with her, enabling her to paint under her own name.

Her works while she was living in her husband's shadow were dark and sad, but after the divorce and moving to Hawaii, she started painting in a much happier and brighter style. Many galleries now advertise her work as having "tears of joy" or "tears of happiness".

Currently Margaret makes her home in Sonoma County, California.

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