The first composer to build his reputation solely on the basis of instrumental works, to achieve fame through the newly burgeoning field of music publishing, and to be canonised and studied long after the style of his time became outmoded, Archangelo Corelli (1653–1713) was a legendary violinist, influential teacher and concertmaster. He was also a friend of the artist Carlo Maratti (1625–1713), who is known to have made a portrait of Corelli. This portrait is thought to be the one brought to England in the late seventeenth century by Corelli's gentleman-student Lord Edgcumbe. The Edgcumbe portrait is known to have been exhibited at the Royal Academy as late as 1938 but is thought to have been destroyed during the Second World War.
Dublin-born artist Hugh Howard (1675–1737?) studied with Maratti in Rome in the late 1690s. Howard produced many portraits of Corelli, including a chalk drawing that also resides in the RCM collection. It is unclear whether Howard's portraits were based on studies made in the presence of Corelli, or whether they were entirely based on Maratti's work. Howard's portraits themselves were the subject of copies by many engravers.