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Portraits are paintings made of certain individuals, namely witches and warlocks.[1]

The subject of a magical portrait is sentient due to enchantments placed on the portrait by the painter.[2] The portrait will be able to use some of the subject's favourite phrases and imitate their general demeanour based on how the subject appears to the painter; however, they are limited in what they can say or do.[2] A portrait can also move from portrait to portrait, or else visit a portrait of them elsewhere in the world.[3]

Bimp, Oliver Cartwright, John Homme, Luxo Karuzos, Pablo Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci were all expert painters. Magenta Comstock was an experimental painter whose subjects' eyes followed their viewers home.[4]

Depiction

A witch or wizard can go to a wizarding painter to have themselves painted.[2] This is usually done so that the portraitist can enchant the portait to have some characteristics of the subject.[2] The portrait will be able to use some of the subject's favourite phrases and imitate their general demeanour.[5] When a magical portrait is taken, the witch or wizard artist will naturally use enchantments to ensure that the painting will be able to move in the usual way.[2]

Portrait person

Sir Cadogan's portrait is forever challenging people to a fight, falling off its horse and behaving in a fairly unbalanced way, which is how the subject appeared to the poor wizard who had to paint him, while the portrait of the Fat Lady continues to indulge her love of good food, drink, and tip-top security long after her living model passed away.[6]

A portrait knows little if anything of its subject's life, and therefore could not hold a very interesting conversation about its subject.[2] As they are only representations of the living subjects as seen by the artist.[2] The exception to this is of the portraits of Hogwarts headmasters, which are kept in a cupboard from the time of their painting, which is usually very old,[1] until the subject dies.[2] The headmaster can therefore teach their portrait to act and speak like them so that they can teach their successors.[2] Despite this, the people in the portraits were considered a sort of memoir or support mechanism. Prior to taking up the post of Headmistress of Hogwarts on a permanent basis, Minerva McGonagall was advised to not mistake those in the paintings for actual people.[7] The depth of knowledge and insight contained in some of the headmasters' and headmistresses' portraits is unknown to any but the incumbents of the office and the few students who have realised, over the centuries, that the portraits' apparent sleepiness when visitors arrive in the office is not necessarily genuine.[2]

The person depicted in a portrait can therefore live indefinitely,[8] although a portrait does have reason to fear for their life or well-being.[9]

Magical photographs

A witch or wizard may also produce a magical photograph, photographs that have been put through a special potion. While some of these may simply be animated images occurring in a continuous loop, some react to their surroundings. Gilderoy Lockhart had "countless framed photographs" of himself in his office.  When Harry, Ron, and Hermione were taken to his office to be interviewed by Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape in the Chamber of Secrets, pictures of Lockhart (with his hair now in rollers) dodged out of sight.  A few moments later, the photographs were nodding in agreement as Lockhart spoke.[10]

Known portraits

Portrait Known locations Notes
Albus Dumbledore

Headmaster's office

During Severus Snape's time as Headmaster the painting hid the Sword of Gryffindor, to keep it safe from Lord Voldemort. He later provided advice to Harry Potter.
Ambrose Swott

Headmaster's office

Anne Boleyn

Grand Staircase near the 2nd floor landing

Ariana Dumbledore

Aberforth's room at the Hog's Head Inn

In 1997–1998 school year, her portrait concealed a secret passage to the Room of Requirement.
Armando Dippet

Headmaster's office

Barnabas the Barmy

7th floor, Hogwarts Castle

Professor Basil Fronsac

Headmaster's office

Secret passages:

1995–1996 school year


1996–1997 school year

Grand Staircase
Library
Dungeons
Bloody Baron

Near the Potions Classroom

Slytherin House Ghost
Brian Gagwilde III

Entrance Hall

Grand Staircase
Brutus Scrimgeour

Hogwarts Trophy Room

Concealed a secret passage between the Trophy Room and the 4th floor.
Circe

Grand Staircase

Concealed a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.
Entrance Hall side room
Damara Dodderidge

Grand Staircase

1995 to 1997* Her portrait concealed a secret passage from the Grand Staircase to the Clock Tower.
Clock Tower
Gryffindor Tower
Daryle Unknown
Dexter Fortescue

Headmaster's office

Dilys Derwent

Headmaster's office

St Mungo's main admitting area
Edgar Stroulger

Sixth floor of Hogwarts Castle

Guards a secret passage in 1993
Elfrida Cragg

Headquarters of the British Ministry of Magic

Elizabeth Burke 1991 to 1995*Grand Staircase1995 to 1996*Entrance Dungeon*Near the entrance to the Potions Classroom*The 7th floor corridor 1995 to 1996 her portrait concealed 2 secret passageways:


1997

Emeric Switch

Hogwarts Castle

Edessa Sakndenberg

Headmaster's office

East Wing
Grand Staircase
Other Halls
Everard

Headmaster's office

British Ministry of Magic Headquarters
Fat Friar

One of the Hogwarts Castle's corridors

Hufflepuff House Ghost
Fat Lady

Guards the Gryffindor Tower

George von Rheticus 1995–1996 school year


1996–1997 school year

Secret passages:

1995–1996 school year


1996–1997 school year

Giffard Abbott

Grand Staircase, below the first landing

1995 to 1997 guarded 2 short-cuts:
Transfiguration Courtyard
Clock Tower
Corridor outside the library
Gilderoy Lockhart

DADA office and classroom

Only during the 1992–1993 school year
Glanmore Peakes

6th floor Glanmore Peakes' Corridor

Concealed a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.
6th floor landing of the Grand Staircase
Entrance Hall side room
Godric Gryffindor

7th floor landing of the Grand Staircase

Guarded a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.One of the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Entrance Hall side room
Google Stump

Viaduct Entrance

Concealed a secret passage to the 1st floor corridor.
Greta Catchlove

Grand Staircase

Concealed a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.
Entrance Hall side room
Günther der Gewalttätige ist der Gewinner

Unknown

Depicts Gunther the Violent
Harry Potter Sketch Probably now in the rubbish bin Drawn by Draco Malfoy and given to Harry to unnerve him about the upcoming Quidditch match.
Helena Ravenclaw

Near the Library

Her portrait was non-speaking
Heliotrope Wilkins

Headmaster's office

Grand Staircase
Hengist Rawkes

Near the 1st floor landing of the Grand Staircase

Iris Pivis

Hogwarts Castle

Merwyn the Malicious

3rd floor landing of the Grand Staircase

Concealed a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.
Entrance Hall side room
Mirabella Plunkett

1st floor landing of the Grand Staircase

Concealed a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.
Entrance Hall side room
Newton Scamander

Headmaster's office

Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington

Hogwarts Castle

Norvel Twonk

5th floor landing of the Grand Staircase

Concealed a secret passage between the Grand Staircase and the Entrance Hall side room.
Entrance Hall side room
Oraclitus Spheer

Gryffindor Reading Room

Percival Pratt

Grand Staircase

1995–1996 school year
Boathouse
Phineas Nigellus Black

Headmaster's office

12 Grimmauld Place
People watching Quidditch

Oxford Corridor, Hogwarts Castle

Professor Walter Aragon

Grand Staircase

Headmaster's office
Quentin Trimble

Headmaster's office

Salazar Slytherin

Dungeons antechamber

Concealed a secret passage between the Dungeons antechamber and the Entrance Hall side room.[11]One of the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Entrance Hall side room
Sedley Smirkpaltter

Hogwarts Castle

Severus Snape

Headmaster's office

Sir Cadogan

7th floor, Hogwarts Castle

In 1993, he was temporarily the guard to the Gryffindor Tower while the Fat Lady's portrait was being repaired.
Timothy the Timid 1995–1996 school year


1996–1997 school year

Secret Passages:

1995–1996 school year


1996–1997 school year

  • Between the Grand Staircase and the Quidditch Gate
  • Between the Quidditch Gate and the Portrait Room
Tobias Manlethorpe

Hogwarts Castle

Temeritus Shanks 1992–1993 school year


1995–1996 school year

Secret passages:

1995–1996 school year


1996–1997 school year

Unidentified red-haired witch Grand Staircase
Valeria Myriadd 1991–1992 school year


1992–1993 school year

Secret passage between the Gryffindor Tower to a Disused seventh floor bathroom
Vindictus Viridian

Grand Staircase

Concealed the entrance to the Room of Rewards.
Violet

A small chamber off of the Great Hall

Is friends with the Fat Lady.
Vulpus

Headmaster's office

Walburga Black

12 Grimmauld Place

Magically fixed to the wall with a Permanent Sticking Charm.
Woman in the hospital wing

Hospital wing, Hogwarts Castle

Behind the scenes

  • In the LEGO Harry Potter games, portraits are shown to be far more interactive than in any other media, with objects able to move from the portrait out to the real world and vice versa. Many puzzles in both games revolve around getting a portrait to give you a necessary object, or bringing a real world object into the portrait to assist its occupants.
  • J. K. Rowling once claimed in an interview that all of the portraits seen at Hogwarts depict deceased individuals.[12] This is not strictly true, however; Gilderoy Lockhart owned several portraits of himself which he hung in his classroom and office.
  • In a scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a portrait features Lord Voldemort. This may be a coincidence, or the director's idea.
  • In the film the Prisoner of Azkaban, Draco Malfoy enchants his sketch of a stupid-looking Harry Potter flying on a broomstick, crashing into things, to make Harry uneasy about the Quidditch Tournament.

Appearances

Notes and references

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