As Kentucky-based Sawyer, 58, points out: “I scarcely think Jesus could have overturned the tables of the money-lenders and driven them from the temple if he was a wimp. The model I use for my paintings is a surfer guy who’s built like a brick shithouse.”
Historically, it would be very odd to think that someone who was a carpenter, in a time when it was all hard manual labour, was a wimp.
One of the little stories I’ve heard (yes, ancedata) to illustrate this is the cuirasses worn by the Household Cavalry. I think I’ve got that right, the metal chest and abdomen armour worn by them. They’re all old gear, originally made for the Georgian and Victorian sons of the soil who made up the regular troops. They’re big: not tall, but wide and deep. The sorts of chest created by a life on the farm, the hard physical labour of mucking out, ploughing, reaping, baling, beats anything you’ll see nowadays except on the largest of prop forwards.
Modern physiques simply rattle around in them, they have to be padded out to make sure they don’t slip and slide all over the place.
Another little piece of anecdata: those prop forwards. It wasn’t all that long ago, only a few decades, that places like Hawick (the farmers) and Cambourne (the miners) were known as having the biggest and beefiest front rows. To say nothing of the Welsh front rows of the time, miners all.