Margaret Keane, artist whose ‘Big Eyes’ paintings were considered his own by her controlling husband – obituary

In 1986, Margaret sued Walter and USA Today for claiming he was the one behind the paintings. In court, the judge ordered that the warring parties each be given a canvas and that they should paint a wide-eyed child.

Margaret completed hers in 53 minutes. Walter even refused to try, complaining that he had hurt his shoulder.

The judge ruled in Margaret’s favor and awarded her $4 million in damages, although she never received a penny, as Walter drank the money.

The eldest of two children of an insurance salesman father and a teacher mother, was born Margaret Doris Hawkins on September 6, 1927, in Nashville, Tennessee. She later described herself as a shy, ailing child who found refuge in drawing.

She attributed her “big-eyed” style in part to a two-year-old mastoid surgery that damaged her hearing, so that in order to understand what people were saying, she studied their faces and especially their eyes.

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