Hugues Sambin (1520–1601)

Hugues Sambin was a French architect, designer and engraver. He created an exuberant ornamental style, which spread widely in architectural and furniture decoration.

Panel of Cupboard, Hugues Sambin, middle of XVI Century

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About his life

Born around 1520, the son of a menuisier, Hugues Sambin established himself in Dijon as a master craftsman (maître-menuisier), as well as in the roles of architect, designer, and engineer. He spent half a year in 1544, working at the palace of Fontainebleau, where he came into contact with the works of Rosso Fiorentino and Francesco Primaticcio. The Italian artists’ decorative work at Fontainebleau represents the height of the mannerist movement under François I, and undoubtedly influenced the young woodworker, who would later incorporate the mannerist aesthetic in his decorative elements and building designs.

Main door of the Parliament of Burgundy in Dijon, Hugues Sambin, 1580

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What were his major works?

His most important work is Oeuvre de la diversité des termes dont on use en architecture, which presents woodcut engravings, a much more common medium for illustrated books of the day and particularly in the major printed architectural treatises of the French Renaissance. Although the Oeuvre is not a “traité” like those of Androuet du Cerceau and Philibert de l’Orme, Sambin’s specialized work on the “termes” presents the author as “architecteur en la ville de Dijon.” He states that his goal in publishing the volume was to “servir à plaisir aux ouvriers et aux architectes,” to make his images available to both artisans and architects.

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Oeuvre de la diversité des termes dont on use en architecture, Hugues Sambin, 1572

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How can we identify Sambin’s style?

His engravings of furniture and decorative sculpture was inspired by classical antiquity. He was largely responsable for the the school of Sambin or Burgundian style, a provincial French Renaissance furniture style of the Rhone Valley area. Typically Renaissance in its use of architectural elements, it was noteworthy for its massive construction and high-relief carved decoration. The two-tiered cupboard, or cabinet à deux corps, with carved human figures or allegorical figures is typical of the Burgundian style. This style preferred muscular satyrs, lions’ heads, and eagles, unlike the Île de France school, both defining the Henri II furniture style.

info source: The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Interior Design

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Oevvre de la diversite des termes, dont on use enarchitecture, Portrait du 12. Terme, Hugues Sambin, 1572

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Cabinet, Hugues Sambin

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