SAMBIN, Hugues
(b. ca. 1520, Gray, d. 1601, Dijon)


French woodcarver, engraver and architect whose influence was considerable in the Burgundy region. He was interested in the art of his time and went to Fontainebleau, where he met the greatest artists of the period. He engraved a magnificent series of plates relating to the art of sculpture which were published in 1572 and dedicated to Eleonor Chabot, the governor of Burgundy. Sambin made his reputation directing his father-in-law's joinery shop throughout his life.

The son of the wood-carver Mammes Sambin, he is mentioned in 1544 in the woodworking accounts relating to the building of the château of Fontainebleau. His involvement in this project explains the strong Mannerist influence in all his work. He worked in 1548 with his father-in-law and two of his brothers, Guillaume Sambin and Claude Sambin, also wood-carvers, on decorations for the entry into Dijon of Henry II, King of France. In 1549 he became a maître-menuisier. In December 1551 he took part in the preparations for the entry into Dijon of the Duc d'Aumale, providing the designs for statues made by the sculptor Jean Damotte (d 1567). In that year he became master of the guild of menuisiers, a position that he held again from 1553 to 1555 and in 1558. He continued to work with his father-in-law over the years, completing a number of projects, among them the construction of a slaughterhouse (1559). In 1564 he supervised works for the entry into Dijon of Charles IX, King of France.

Sambin was responsible for the porch supported on caryatids in the courtyard of the Hôtel Milsand in Dijon, registering the design in 1565. The work shows the influence of the Grotte des Pins at the château of Fontainebleau, which was in turn inspired by Michelangelo. Sambin can also be credited with the façade of the building, which has opulent Mannerist decoration. He moved away from Dijon in 1567, having been converted to Protestantism.

The extraordinary prestige enjoyed by Sambin stemmed essentially from his publication L'Oeuvre de la diversité des termes dont on use en architecture, which was printed by Jean Durant in Lyon in 1572. It contains 36 plates drawn and perhaps engraved by him, illustrating the contemporary taste for exuberant Mannerist designs for caryatid terms. After working for a time for Léonor Chabot, Comte de Charny, Lieutenant-general to the Government of Burgundy, Sambin qualified as an architect in Dijon, by 1577 describing himself as maître-architecte.

In 1582 he was asked to submit plans for the construction of a new hôtel de ville in Besançon. In the same year he designed a victory column for the visit of the Duc de Mayenne to Dijon. On 11 October 1583 Sambin, with his son David Sambin, a wood-carver, contracted with the canons of the Sainte-Chapelle in Dijon to build a screen for the high altar. At the same time he signed an agreement with the magistrates in charge of the construction of the Palais de Justice in Dijon for supplying a screen for the chapel of the Salle des Pas-Perdus and a small door for the Chambre du Scrin.

In 1592 Sambin submitted a model for the rood screen of a church in Dôle and in 1596 worked on the fortifications of Salins. This was to be his last commission. Of the various works that have been attributed to Sambin, the houses in Dijon with ornate façades, known to have been carried out by him for private clients, have disappeared or can no longer be identified.