Art and Culture
Artwork History Hogwarts

Portraits at Hogwarts

Portraits at Hogwarts

Hogwarts is a place of many surprises. Not only are the doors and staircases unusual, but also the paintings on the walls act in ways a visitor might not expect. The paintings are practically full-fledged Beings. They speak and interact, not just with the humans in the castle but even with each other.

These portraits were not created by the subjects themselves, but by an artist who created the painting during their life. In the case of Hogwarts Headmasters, the portraits were made before their deaths and kept “under lock and key,” occasionally visited by the subject to impart memories and other personality traits to the portrait (Pm). Most of the portraits remain rather dull and two-dimensional, while others have more depth and insight. The artist cannot take credit for a portraits that interact and display complex personality traits — it depends on the magical power of the witch or wizard in the painting (Pm).

Portraits of Previous Headmasters
These portraits apparently spend their days snoozing in the Headmaster’s office (CS12). In fact, often they are faking sleep and listening to everything that goes on; they are duty-bound to help the current Headmaster in any way they can, which usually means traveling to their other portraits on other places and reporting what they see or delivering messages.

  • Albus Dumbledore – hangs directly behind the headmaster’s chair, concealing a hiding place (DH33)
  • Phineas Nigellus Black – visits his portrait in number twelve Grimmauld Place (OP22, OP23, OP37, HBP23, DH10, DH12, DH33, DH36)
  • Armando Dippet (OP22, OP37)
  • Dilys Derwent – visits St. Mungo’s, where she had been a Healer (OP22, DH36)
  • Everard – visits the Ministry of Magic (OP22, HBP29)
  • Dexter Fortescue (DH36)
  • Severus Snape (BLC)

Other Portraits at Hogwarts: