At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Spoilers will be present within the article.
- "Hogwarts portraits are able to talk and move around from picture to picture. They behave like their subjects. However, the degree to which they can interact with the people looking at them depends not on the skill of the painter, but on the power of the witch or wizard painted."
The subject of a magical portrait is sentient due to enchantments placed on the portrait by the painter. 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. A portrait can also move from portrait to portrait, or else visit a portrait of them elsewhere in the world.
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.
A witch or wizard can go to a wizarding painter to have themselves painted. This is usually done so that the portraitist can enchant the portrait to have some characteristics of the subject. The portrait will be able to use some of the subject's favourite phrases and imitate their general demeanour. 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.
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.
A portrait knows little if anything of its subject's life, and therefore could not hold a very interesting conversation about its subject, as they are only representations of the living subjects as seen by the artist. 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, until the subject dies. The headmaster can therefore teach their portrait to act and speak like them so that they can teach their successors. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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 someone that resembles Lord Voldemort. This may be a coincidence, or the director's idea.
- In the same film, 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.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Wonderbook: Book of Spells
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter Limited Edition
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts Portraits" at Wizarding World
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
- ↑ Wizard of the Month
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Two, Scene Ten
- ↑ As Phineas Nigellus lived for at least seventy-three years after his portrait was painted, seemingly without ageing or dying.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 7 (Mudbloods And Murmurs)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) - PC version
- ↑ Edinburgh Book Festival, Sunday 15th August 2004