"Filth! Scum! By-products of dirt and vileness! Half-breeds, mutants, freaks, begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my fathers--"
—The portrait screaming when Nymphadora Tonks knocks over the troll-leg umbrella stand with a crash[src]

A portrait of Walburga Black (19251985) was a life-sized, very realistic painting hanging in 12 Grimmauld Place, the house in which the real Walburga raised her sons and lived in with her husband. Claiming that it was the "house of her fathers", it is possible that she grew up there as well. Walburga was the mother of Sirius Black and Regulus Black and the matriach of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black pure-blood family, thus, her pure-blood supremacist views while she was alive clearly live on through her portrait.[1]



It is unknown exactly when the portrait was affixed permanently to the wall of 12 Grimmauld Place. The portrait depicts Walburga as an "old woman in a black cap", suggesting that it was painted in the last years of her life, when she was in mourning for her husband and her youngest son (both died in 1979). If this assumption is correct, then the portrait dates to the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Order of the Phoenix Headquarters

During the time in which the Order of the Phoenix used 12 Grimmauld Place as headquarters, the portrait was mostly an inconveinence as it meant everyone would have to be quiet in the halls so as to not awake the portrait of Mrs Black. Also, as Sirius Black detested his mother and living in his old house, the portrait was just a further reminder of the misery of being cooped up there again (on Albus Dumbledore's orders). The portraits's screams would often add to the chaos if something loud or exciting was going on at the house.[2][3]

During the Horcrux Hunt

"Mudbloods, filth, stains of dishonour, taint of shame on the house of my fathers -- "
—Walburga's portrait's attitude toward Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they stay in Grimmauld Place during the hunt for the Horcruxes[src]

When Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger fled to 12 Grimmauld Place after the news of the Fall of the Ministry of Magic interrupted the Wedding of William Weasley and Fleur Delacour, the portrait of Mrs Black began to scream her usual "Mudblood" and "filth" insults when the dust-composed form of Dumbledore rose from the carpet which disintegrated when the person it advanced upon said the word kill or a variant as a precaution against Severus Snape returning to the house. Also, when Harry and his friends thundered down the stairs noisily they woke the portrait of Sirius's mother as they passed through the hall, who screamed "Filth! Mudbloods! Scum!" after them as they slammed the door behind them into the basement kitchen.[4]

Following the end of the Second Wizarding War, it is unknown if Harry Potter and his family moved back to 12 Grimmauld Place, nor is it known whether or not they ever managed to remove her portrait from the wall.


Walburga Black

Main article: Walburga Black
Walburga Black (19251985) was a pure-blood witch, the daughter of Pollux Black and Irma Crabbe and sister of Alphard and Cygnus. Walburga was probably raised in Grimmauld Place, since she called it the "House of my fathers". She married her second cousin Orion Black, thus her married name was the same as her maiden name, and had two children, Sirius and Regulus Black.[5] She died in 1985.

The Portrait

"The moth-eaten velvet curtains Harry had passed earlier had flown apart, but there no was no door behind them, For a split second, Harry thought he was looking through a window, a window behind which an old woman in a black cap was screaming and screaming as though she was being tortured -- then realised it was simply a life-size portrait, but the most realistic, and the most unpleasant, he had ever seen in his life."
Harry's first experience with the portrait of Walburga Black[src]
Walburga's portrait remained magically fixed to the wall in the hallway of her family home, using a Permanent Sticking Charm on the back of the canvas. The picture, which was covered in moth-eaten velvet curtains when inactive, showed an insane old woman, prone to screaming insults at anyone who disturbed the portrait. If any loud noise was made in the house, such as ringing the doorbell, Walburga's portrait would scream and scream about the filthy and scum living in her sacred, pure-blood family's house.[2]
"The old woman was drooling, her eyes were rolling, the yellowing skin of her face stretched taut as she screamed, and all along the hall behind them, the other portraits awake and began to yell too, so that Harry actually screwed up his eyes at the noise and clapped his hands over his ears. Lupin and Mrs Weasley drated forward and tried to tug the curtains shut over the old woman, but they would not close and she screeched louder than ever, brandishing clawed hands as though trying to tear at their faces"
—Description of Walburga Black's portrait screaming[src]
Kreacher portrait OOTP 1

Kreacher polishing Walburga's portrait frame

This happened several times when the Order of the Phoenix use Grimmauld Place as their headquarters after her death, and they tried unsuccessfully to remove the portrait for quite sometime.[2] She survived the deaths of her family, but the destruction of it may account for her final madness. After their deaths, she was alone in the house except for the family house-elf, Kreacher, who seemed equally deranged due to his parroting her beliefs, until Harry Potter came to know and treat him better one year after inheriting him.

"Hello, Harry, I see you've met my mother"
Sirius Black grimly introduces the portrait of Walburga to Harry[src]


"Stains of dishonour, filthy half-breeds, blood traitors, children of filth!"
Portrait of Walburga Black screaming at members of the Order of the Phoenix[src]

The portrait of Walburga had the exact same beliefs as the living Walburga Black. She was obsessed with blood purity, and her portrait would often scream insults at blood traitors, half-bloods, or muggle-born wizards. She had little affection for her son, Sirius Black as he was viewed as a blood traitor by the Black family but appeared to have a fairly good relationship with Sirius' younger brother, Regulus and was proud of him when he joined the Death Eaters. Although she was not a Death Eater herself, she was convinced that Voldemort was doing the right thing by trying to eliminate Muggles and bringing wizards and witches out of hiding. Walburga was kind to her house elf, Kreacher who shared her views on blood purity. Kreacher was very loyal to her.[2]

It is probable that the portrait is not an accurate representation of Walburga's character and opinions and simply a depiction of some of her stronger opinions.

Behind the scenes

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Walburga's portrait is not heard screaming nor is she herself viewed, but she could be heard muttering behind her curtain; as Harry is going up the stairs, Kreacher is polishing her portrait, and she can be heard muttering "Filth."


Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 4 (Number Twelve Grimmauld Place)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 6 (The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 9 (A Place to Hide)
  5. Black family tree
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