(b. 1500, Arras, d. 1557, Toulouse)


French architect, mason and sculptor. He was the dominant sculptor and architect of 16th-century Toulouse and deserves to be placed after Pierre Lescot and Philibert Delorme (both primarily active in the Île de France) among the creators of the French classical style in architecture. His training as a sculptor probably took place in Arras, then a Spanish province in direct contact with Italy, and he probably also studied in Italy before arriving in Toulouse c. 1532. The exceptional quality of his work won him an immediate admiration that lasted into posterity. His origins and training were rapidly surrounded with legends, repeated by Dupuy du Grez in his Traité de peinture (1699), in which Bachelier is described as a pupil of Michelangelo. In the 19th century all important Renaissance monuments between Pau and Cahors were unhesitatingly ascribed to him.

Bachelier's first employment was as a sculptor, and such works as his carved stone retables and altars in the churches of Toulouse, including the cathedral of Saint-Étienne (1532), Notre-Dame de la Dalbade (1544) and Saint-Nicolas (1555), as well as his screen (1535) for the church of the Cordeliers, demonstrate his sure grasp of Italian Renaissance motifs and methods of composition. The mastery of the classical orders evident in his monumental retables also found expression in architecture, where he applied stone decoration to the portals, windows and chimney-pieces of largely brick-built châteaux and hôtels. His earliest work that can be securely dated is the hôtel (1538) in Toulouse of the magistrate Jean de Bagis; this has windows decorated with pilasters and small columns in two registers, separated by a transom treated as an architrave (a motif that became a feature of Toulouse architecture), and an elaborately carved portal supported by herms in the manner of Michelangelo.

Bachelier rapidly became the most popular architect in Toulouse and the surrounding regions. He was involved in the construction of the Pont Neuf (1544) and within the city he built for private patrons the Hôtel de Nolet, the Hôtel de Saint-Jory and the hôtel of Guillaume Bernuy. For the municipality he built two monumental doors for the Hôtel de Ville (1546) and one for the College de l'Esquile (1555), based on a model by Sebastiano Serlio. His masterpiece is the Hôtel d'Assézat, although the exact extent of his role in its design is unclear: he seems to have provided only the sculptural decoration (1555-58), while the brick shell was entrusted to the master-mason Jean Castagné. This monumental structure has two courtyard façades articulated by superimposed engaged orders, with windows inscribed in arches.

In the environs of Toulouse, Bachelier built the châteaux of Castelnau d'Estrétefonds (1539-44), Pibrac (1540-45), Saint-Jory (1545) and Lasserre-les-Montastruc (1555). Of his children, Dominique Bachelier (d. 1615) was an architect active in Toulouse, while Antoine Bachelier and Géraud Bachelier were sculptors.