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Daniel Lambert has been called 'the most corpulent man of whom authentic record exists'. He was born in the parish of St Margaret in Leicester on 13 March 1770. After taking over his father's post as Leicester gaoler in 1791, his size and weight started to increase enormously. By 1793 he weighed 32 stone although he was very strong and active, only drank water, and slept for less than eight hours a day. In 1805 he resigned his post at the prison to turn his amazing stature to profit by exhibiting himself all over England. He became a national celebrity. According to one description, 'When sitting he appears to be a stupendous mass of flesh, for his thighs are so covered by his belly that nothing but his knees are to be seen, while the flesh of his legs, which resemble pillows, projects in such a manner as to nearly bury his feet.
oil on canvas
H 71 x W 60 cm
purchased by Henry S. Wellcome, c.1900–1936