Hambourg was born in Paris in 1909. He was a prolific French Impressionist whose work is internationally respected. He is best known for luminous seascapes and beach scenes, including his poetic scenes of Venice. His formal artistic studies began in 1926 at the age of seventeen when he entered the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. For four years, Hambourg studied sculpture under Paul Niclausse. Afterward, he entered the studio of Lucien Simon at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.
While still a student, Hambourg had his first solo exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Taureau in 1928. At the time he was still only nineteen years old. Since his talent was recognized early, he was able to participate in Paris salons as his career developed. During the 1930s, he worked in Montparnasse where he had a lot of exposure to modernist movements and its artists. By 1931 he was a member of the Salon de l’Art Français Indépendant and the Salon de l’Œuvre Unique.
In 1933 Hambourg was awarded a residency at the Villa de la Abd-el-Tif, a villa in Algiers the French government maintained for artists. As a result, Hambourg traveled to North Africa for the first time. He ended up staying for nearly ten years. The impact could be seen on his canvases as the harsh sunlight and overt poverty were reflected in the scenes he painted. During his residency, Hambourg had several one man shows in Algeria, Oran, and Paris; a 1939 exhibition at the Musée d’Outre-Mer in Paris included eighty paintings.
In 1939 Hambourg’s services were required in the military and he became a reporter and draughtsman for the French Army’s newspaper, the Journal de Commissariat a la Guerre. Hambourg used the pseudonym Andre Hache. By 1944 he was appointed a war correspondent. After the war ended, Hambourg returned to his career as an artist.
Hambourg became the official painter for the French Navy in 1952. With the Navy, he embarked on voyages world-wide to destinations that included Venice, The Ivory Coast, Britain, America, and others. The diverse locations inspired Hambourg and he brought back sketches that he later turned into paintings and illustrations. Eventually his illustrious maritime career was acknowledged when he became the official painter of the Marine Ministry. He was also honored with the Laureate of the Salon de la Marine.
In 1970 Hambourg was honored with a prestigious retrospective and 500 of his works were displayed at the Maison de Culture in Bourges. Other noteworthy exhibitions include: Drawings of Venice at the Galerie Varine-Gincourt in Paris in 1979; Bonjour New York at Wally Findlay Galleries in New York in 1985; “The Presence of André Hambourg”, Salon du Dessin in 1986; “André Hambourg in the Ivory Coast” Galerie Guigne in Paris in 1987; and “André Hambourg in Venice”, Galerie Apesteguyin Deauville in 1989.
Hambourg received many accolades during his lifetime. In 1951 he was awarded The Cross of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic. In 1986 he became the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres and the Commander of the Legion of Honor. In 1996 he became Grand Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.