La Déesse, made in plaster by José Clara in 1909, is kept in the Musée des Augustins but is so severely damaged that it cannot be put on public display.
The mairie did not want to disappoint the community, so it opted to make an exact copy without damaging the original.
Toulouse firm IMA Solutions, which installs 3D interactive and multimedia works worldwide, including in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Louvre in Lens, and London’s British Museum, was brought in and decided to make a detailed 3D scan, then carve a new statue with a robot sculptor.
IMA Solutions director Benjamin Moreno said: “It wasn’t the first time we had scanned a statue, but it was the first time we had made a stone statue.”
After the 3D scan, a 4.2-tonne block of Lavoux stone (a very finely grained white sandstone) was carved to rough shape by a robot sculptor in steps of about 1cm, before being hand-finished.
Mr Moreno said: “It took five weeks, and now we have a stone replica of how the statue would have looked when it was first carved, because apart from being cracked, the original has bits missing. We did it without touching the original and, now it has been scanned, it can be reproduced in any material, including plastic or wood.”
The new statue has been well received. Mr Moreno said: “People are pleased. It’s what they voted for. It’s become quite a landmark.”