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Thread: Magical Portraits and Paintings

  1. #1
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    Magical Portraits and Paintings

    So, when a portrait or picture in general is being painted, is it enchanted to move etc. AFTER it has been finished or can it move while it is PARTIALLY painted? I can imagine that would be quite annoying for the painter...but even so...
    Also, do you think someone could enchant a Muggle painting? Would the Muggle subject be surprised that it was suddenly able to move and talk?

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  2. #2
    ahattab33
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    I didn't think that anyone actually painted the magical portraits. After Harry arrives back in Dumbledore's office in HBP, it's only been maybe an hour or so, and Dumbledore's portrait is already on the wall; his picture is asleep.

    Seems rather odd, though...we can assume that the magic of Hogwarts and the tradition of the Headmaster's portraits would be why Dumbledore's portrait appeared, but what about the other portraits? Why is there a portrait of the Fat Lady? Who was she originally? What about the bowl of fruit that you tickle to get into the kitchens, or the esteemed witches and wizards who grace the hallways of St. Mungo's or even in private residences, like Grimmauld Place? And, how are they linked?

    My theory is that something probably needs to be arranged before the person dies, as all of their memories and personality up until their death are put into the portrait, and that seems like it would be quite a complicated bit of magic, and breaching into fields we haven't really seen. I'm not sure how that would be done, but I would also venture to say that the connection of two portraits could possibly occur after the first has been created, something along the lines of simply making a copy of the first; they are just doorways that only one memory can travel between, really.

  3. #3
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahattab33
    My theory is that something probably needs to be arranged before the person dies, as all of their memories and personality up until their death are put into the portrait, and that seems like it would be quite a complicated bit of magic, and breaching into fields we haven't really seen. I'm not sure how that would be done, but I would also venture to say that the connection of two portraits could possibly occur after the first has been created, something along the lines of simply making a copy of the first; they are just doorways that only one memory can travel between, really.
    I agree. There isn't a lot of canon on this, so there are several factors to consider. All of the following is speculation, since there is no definitive canon answer.

    1. Can Muggles become magical paintings?

    We never see any examples of this, and there's at least the implication that the subject of the painting must be magical. As well, Rowling has said that only wizards become ghosts. So, I would answer "no" to this question.

    2. Can you create a magical painting of someone after they have already died?

    If this were possible, I'd think just about everyone would want portraits allowing them to talk to loved ones who've passed on. It may be that they are too difficult and expensive for everyone to preserve grandma and grandpa on their walls, but I still think they'd be more common if there weren't further limitations on capturing someone's "spirit" in a painting. So I'd argue that you have to prepare the portrait before the subject dies. It might well be routine to prepare a portrait for every new Hogwarts Headmaster, thus explaining why there was one for Dumbledore (and Snape). But I don't think Harry could decide he wants to have portraits of Sirius and Remus (or his parents) to talk to, nor could George commission a posthumous portrait of Fred.

    3. Is the portrait "alive" while it's being painted?

    If you agree with my answer to 2, then I think the answer to this is "no" as well. Otherwise, you leave open the possibility of creating magical portraits of people who aren't dead yet. Imagine people talking to their own portraits!

    4. Does the portrait have all the memories of the person it represents, or only those as of the time it was painted?

    This is a more interesting question. If you say the latter, then a portrait wouldn't remember the circumstances of his/her death. Yet Dumbledore's portrait seems to know everything that has happened to that point. So even if his portrait was "prepared" beforehand, it appears that all his memories were transferred into it upon his death.

    This also leads to the question of what happens if a great deal of time passes between the painting of the subject, and the subject's death? Does the portrait look as the subject did at the time of the painting, or does it magically assume the appearance of the person when s/he died? (Well, probably not when they died, or there would be some pretty gruesome portraits...)

  4. #4
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    In the classroom threads, there was acutally a class devoted to the study of magical portraits. Why don't you try hopping over there and see if anything they discussed can prove useful to you as well?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    In the classroom threads, there was acutally a class devoted to the study of magical portraits. Why don't you try hopping over there and see if anything they discussed can prove useful to you as well?
    Oh thankyou! I'll be sure to check that out. And thanks to everyone else and their suggestions. It certainly is an interesting topic, I have always wondered about it...not that I'm artistic in any way ...

    ahattab33 brought up an interesting point in the way of the bowl of fruit at the kitchen entranceway which you have to tickle in a certain place (I think it's the pear???)
    How on earth does that work?

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  6. #6
    Dinx_Skylarx
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    ahattab33 brought up an interesting point in the way of the bowl of fruit at the kitchen entranceway which you have to tickle in a certain place (I think it's the pear???)
    How on earth does that work?
    I'm guessing that the portrait has had a charm placed upon it, tickling the pear could be the wizard equivalant of a muggle pulling a book on a bookcase, both open secret chambers.

  7. #7
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    Originally posted by Inverarity:
    3. Is the portrait "alive" while it's being painted?

    If you agree with my answer to 2, then I think the answer to this is "no" as well. Otherwise, you leave open the possibility of creating magical portraits of people who aren't dead yet. Imagine people talking to their own portraits!


    Ah, but one must remember, Lockhart had portraits of himself all over his office during his time as DA professor.

    I think in the case of the Headmasters, there may be some magic that comes with the job that creates the portraits possibly at the moment of death and the memories are transferred into it at that time. I can see a portrait of Dumbledore being painted, if that is how they do it, but can you see Snape posing for a portrait? No, I think the Headmasters' portraits are just part of the magic of the castle.
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  8. #8
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudbloodproud
    Ah, but one must remember, Lockhart had portraits of himself all over his office during his time as DA professor.
    Were they portraits, or photographs?

    If they were portraits... hmm.

  9. #9
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    I asked the same question, so I pulled out my trusty books.

    In CoS, they are said to be framed pictures when Harry goes in for his detetio. But, in OotP, when Harry goes to Umbridge's office again for detention, he thinks about the portraits that Lockhart had covering the walls.

    Another thing to consider, is the animals in the portraits. Were they dead when painted? How do you 'capture' memories of animals?

    I think perhaps I need to visit the Magical Portraits classroom myself.
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  10. #10
    Momo Wellish
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    I always thought that you had to enchant it after it was painted or some potion had to be mixed into the paint. As for Dumbledore's painting, Hogwarts has some very strong enchantments and the painting thing is probably one of them.

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