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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Boris Chaliapin, 1904 - 1979
Copy after
Walter Bennett, born 1921
Martin Luther King, Jr., 15 Jan 1929 - 4 Apr 1968
Watercolor and pencil on board
Sight: 42.2 x 31.1cm (16 5/8 x 12 1/4")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9cm (28 x 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Chris Murphy
Object number
Exhibition Label
Time magazine portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.
The success of the Montgomery bus boycott catapulted King into the national spotlight. In February 1957, Time featured his portrait on its cover and published an in-depth profile describing the twenty-eight-year-old pastor as "one of the nation’s remarkable leaders." The article declared that "King reached beyond lawbooks and writs, beyond violence and threats, to win his people—and challenge all people––with a spiritual force that aspired even to ending prejudice in man’s mind." When asked about the inspiration for his actions, King replied, "The spirit of passive resistance came to me from the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. The techniques of execution came from Gandhi." Just a month before the Time article appeared, sixty black ministers from across the South had gathered at King’s invitation in Atlanta to cofound what became known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)—an organization dedicated to utilizing nonviolent direct action to challenge and defeat racism.
Boris Chaliapin (1904–1979)
Watercolor and pencil on board, 1957, after photograph by Walter Bennett
Time magazine, February 18, 1957
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection