Bewick executed a large cartoon of some of the figures in the Elgin Marbles at the request of the German poet Goethe. He also worked as a copyist, so successfully that Sir Thomas Lawrence sent him to copy Michelangelo's frescoes of the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1826. Upon his return three years later, he worked as a historical and portrait painter. Forced to retire by illness, Bewick spent his last 20 years in north-east England. Bewick's Life and Letters were published by Thomas Landseer, the brother of the famous painter, in 1871. They form a source for Haydon's circle, and include a character study of William Hazlitt, whom Bewick knew well. They include a description of the poet Foscolo reciting his poetry in the presence of Wordsworth.