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Headmaster portraits

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Phineas Nigellus Black: "Visit my other portrait? Oh, no, I am too tired tonight."
Unidentified Headmaster: "Insubordination, sir! Dereliction of duty!"
Armando Dippet: "We are honour-bound to give service to the present Headmaster of Hogwarts! Shame on you, Phineas!"
— Some of the other portraits scold Phineas for attempting to shirk his duty to the current Headmaster.[src]

The Headmaster portraits are a set of portraits mounted in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each portrait represents a previous Headmaster or Headmistress, though not every person to hold the office is immediately granted a portrait. They are honour-bound to serve the current Headmaster at all times. Several of these portraits have counterparts in other prestigous magical insitutions, such as the British Ministry of Magic Headquarters, St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, and the Black family home at 12 Grimmauld Place.

A trait shared by many of the portraits is that they spend most of the time asleep or pretending to be asleep, though most of them, with the occasional exception of Phineas Nigellus Black, will immediately awaken when addressed.


1995-1996 school year

When Arthur Weasley was attacked by Nagini on 18 December, Albus Dumbledore called upon several of the portraits to relay or provide information on the event. Everard was sent to his portrait at the Ministry of Magic to make sure Arthur was found, Dilys Derwent was sent to St. Mungo's to monitor his arrival there, and Phineas Nigellus Black was sent to 12 Grimmauld Place to inform Sirius Black that Harry Potter and the Weasley children would be arriving there by Portkey.

The portraits witnessed Cornelius Fudge's attempt to arrest Dumbledore later that year, and supported him against the Ministry.

1997-1998 school year

After the death of Albus Dumbledore, then-Head Severus Snape continued to be advised by, and take orders from, his portrait. It was under these orders that Snape delivered Godric Gryffindor's Sword to Harry Potter, and arranged for Harry to view several of his memories.

Following the defeat of Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, the portraits cheered on Harry when he visited the Headmaster's office. Dumbledore in particular complimented Harry, and supported his decision to discard the Resurection Stone and return the Elder Wand to the White Tomb.

Known Headmasters with portraits


Professor Swott's portrait in 1992.

Behind the scenes

  • It is possible that Dolores Umbridge does not have a portrait, because she is probably alive and only in azkaban.Most headmasters only receive their potraits once they die.Moreover Hogwarts did not recognise her as Headmistress. For example, she was denied access to the Headmaster's office.
  • According to J. K. Rowling, all of the Headmaster portraits depict deceased individuals. As such, though it is never directly stated, it can be assumed that a Headmaster who leaves the position for other reasons will not have their portrait added until after their death.


Albus Dumbledore's portrait

Dumbledore's portrait in 1997.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) DVD (Disc 2 - Dumbledore's Office)

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