Artists who have painted portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King include Robert Vickery, Boris Chaliapin, Kadir Nelson, Derek Russell and Anthony C. Fletcher. King was a popular subject in light of the significant role he played in the American Civil Rights movement.
The portraits of King painted by Vickery and Chaliapin are two of the most well-known, and have been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. Vickery's depiction of King was originally featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1963 when King was selected as Time's Man of the Year. Chaliapin’s portrayal of King was commissioned for Time Magazine's cover in 1957 when the news weekly did an article saluting the accomplishments of the then 28-year-old King, and lauding him as an up-and-coming leader.
Nelson's art work was praised by Dr. King's daughter, Rev. Bernice King. He painted a collection of images of Dr. King to illustrate the children's photo book "I Have A Dream". The book recreates the entire speech given by Dr. King on August 28,1963, at the culmination of the historic march on Washington, DC. Although the book contains some paintings of the crowds, the portraits of Dr. King, and his different facial expressions at pivotal points during the speech, garnered favorable critical acclaim from The New York Times and Publishers Weekly.