As we all know that wizarding world and muggle world in Harry Potter is separated. If we go by this logic, is the world in moving portraits in wizarding world different?

I mean the portraits have knowledge. People in portraits, though dead have capacity to make decisions. So if compared with real life situation, these photographs are not videos or GIFs programmed to move in a specific loop. The people in portraits can move from one frame to another. Also, the background seems alive in many portraits.

From this I assume, there must be another world separated, where the people in portraits live. Something like we see in Wreck-It Ralph. Outside the frame where people can't see, they must have bedroom, living room or maybe a whole garden.

(P.S.: I'm not speaking about photographs in wizarding world's newspaper or wanted posters. They look like looping GIFs.)

marked as duplicate by phantom42, Jason Baker, Möoz, Null, Ward Feb 10 '15 at 6:10

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • I believe you're overthinking things. When you take a photograph of someone, you not only capture their likeness, but also part of their being. That's all there is to it. There is no other world in which the photographed people live. – Mr Lister Feb 2 '15 at 9:21
  • 1
    @MrLister - In our world yes, but I think what he is asking is a good question, it would make sense if they have their own "world" and have to sit/stand in front of their designated "window" which we perceive as the frame on the wall – LepelLeLama Feb 2 '15 at 10:40
  • Are you sure you mean photographs, and not the paintings? The latter seem to be the ones who have autonomy. – FuzzyBoots Feb 2 '15 at 11:46
  • Neither Photograph, nor Painting... Its a Portrait. – GuruGulabKhatri Feb 2 '15 at 11:51
  • 1
    Then how does the Fat Lady hides in another portrait other than her own (HP:PoA)? Also, if I remember clearly, I think ones Dumbledore requests certain portrait to ask other portraits to spread some word around in Hogwarts. – GuruGulabKhatri Feb 3 '15 at 4:56

Yes, it is not explicitly said but we can gather from several sources that pictures do indeed have separate worlds. From the wikia:

A portrait knows little if anything of its subject's life, and therefore could not hold a very interesting conversation about its subject.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.

So you can see that they know little because they are only images. They do not live in the same world, otherwise they would know the same stuff and be affected by this worlds effects. They from the books are depicted to live in many outlandish places, but the mere fact that they can travel through each others pictures means that they don't live in the same place.

And from Wikipedia:

Authorial statements regarding portraits have been vague. Rowling made a comment in an interview that a portrait is something like a faint imprint of the person in question, imitating the basic attitude and thought patterns of the person.

Also, if the pictures are in the same world as the Wizards that they depict that would mean that there are several copies of that wizard and that goes past the Scope of even a ghost.


I've read the whole Harry Potter series at least six times and of course there's another world for portraits. Granted a very loose depiction of the word "world", but how is it that the portraits in Hogwarts are able to move into each others frames? In Prisoner of Azkaban the fat lady has a friend from another painting in Hogwarts and I think her name was Violet. If these portraits are able to develop friendships and have pastimes, I think that it's only logical that the place where they exist is a world. A place where beings of any sort are able to exist in any way shape or form is by very definition a world.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.