The portraits were one of the main directions of Nurenberg’s work. He made exotic portraits in his travels, genre portraits in domestic and industrial situations, studio portraits of relatives, friends and celebrities, or simply drew expressive faces. The technique of the portraits was most different — from pencil sketches to studio oil painting.
Among earlier portraits, one of particular interest is «Portrait of the wife in a red schawl» (1930), painted in the splint decorative style typical for the group «The Jack of Diamonds», with which members Nurenberg became close in the 1920s .
Two portrait compositions of the 1960s «Sholom Aleichem surrounded by his heroes» and «Babel surrounded by his heroes» had a philosophical symbolism. The writers were represented by their images (as picture in picture), and literary heroes as live actors. Such a permutation of reality and fiction represents the art as more full of life than the actuality. Nurenberg valued this idea, having projected it on his own work. He repeatedly exhibited the portrait of Babel and published it on different occasions.
A significant number of Nurenberg’s portraits, mostly genre-styled, are in the Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.