The More You Know

Young Leonardo Da Vinci Was Called ‘Fat Boy’

The portrait adds ten pounds.
The portrait adds ten pounds. Photo: istockphoto

Renaissance man, indeed: In addition to being one of the greatest painters of all-time, it seems Leonardo da Vinci was also a feverish gourmand — which led to plenty of ribbing when he was a lowly artist’s apprentice back in Florence. Among other things, his overlords nicknamed him “fat boy.”

Turns out, Da Vinci’s stepfather was a pastry chef who liked to mail his young pal lots of sugary treats. “The boy’s doting step-father gave him a taste for marzipans and sugars from a very young age,” Lapham’s notes. In fact, he wolfed down his care packages so quickly (the Italian translation is, ahem, “crapulando,” or “guzzling”) that his colleagues ostracized him for his gluttonous ways.

Maybe that’s why Da Vinci fled the studio and worked briefly as a tavern cook, boasting (compensating?) that his cakes were “without compare.” He then blossomed into a full-on food snob, growing into an adult who was “horrified” by much of what his servants fed him (eel balls and Gothic porridge were a no-no).

So now we understand the real inspiration behind the Last Supper.

Top Chef, Old Master [Lapham’s Quarterly]

Young Leonardo Da Vinci Was Called ‘Fat Boy’