Portrait of Daniel Lambert (1770-1809)

attributed to Benjamin Marshall (1768-1835)

about 1800

Oil on Canvas

87.5 x 75 cm

This is one of many portraits that were painted of the celebrity Daniel Lambert (1770-1809), famous in the late Georgian era as the self-styled ‘fattest man in Britain’.


Leicester-born Lambert was the eldest son of the Earl of Stamford’s huntsman, and as a youth was a keen sportsman. Having served an apprenticeship at a die-casting works in Birmingham, he returned to Leicester to succeed his father as Keeper of the Bridewell Prison, a sedentary job which caused his weight to balloon uncontrollably. By the age of 23 he weighed 32 stone (203 kg), and after the gaol closed in 1805 – at which point Lambert weighed 50 stone (318 kg) – he became a virtual recluse.


However, poverty forced Lambert to put himself on exhibition to raise money. Visiting London in 1806, he took lodgings in Piccadilly and received paying visitors between 12 noon and 5pm. After this success, he combined successful tours of the regions with a new career as a dog breeder in Leicester. He died suddenly in Stamford aged only 39 and weighing 52 stone (330 kg). Even though he was provided with a wheeled coffin, it took 20 men to drag his casket into the grave.