Antonio Canova (1757 – 1822) was the most internationally successful and influential sculptor of Neoclassicism. Often influenced by themes from Antiquity, the colossal sculptures and bas-reliefs created by the Italian artist were imbued with idealistic purity. Canova thoroughly studied anatomy, which he called the secret of his art. He also observed the expressions and mannerisms of performers, and familiarized himself with ancient and modern history. He distinguished his works by employing a special method of permeating marble with a soft, mellow appearance. Canova's work was in great demand by luminaries such as Napoleon, Catherine the Great of Russia and the Duke of Wellington.