The venerated figure of Mother Teresa first appeared in the art of Maqbool Fida Husain in 1980. Since then the numerous canvases dedicated to this subject stand as testimony to the profound impact Mother Teresa of Calcutta had on the artist's life and work. While often depicted as a faceless entity, these paintings explore notions not only of Mother Teresa herself, but of motherhood in general, from the biblical Virgin Mary to Husain's own mother who died when he was very young. Husain repeatedly borrows elements from Renaissance painting and sculpture in these compositions, and quotes the pointed arches of cathedral architecture in this work. His handling of clothing also picks up on the 15th century Italian preoccupation with realism in the representation of drapery and the folds of ecclesiastical robes in this work.
The artist states: "I have tried to capture in my paintings what her presence meant to the destitute and the dying, the light and hope she brought by mere inquiry, by putting her hand over a child abandoned in the street... That is why I try it again and again, after a gap of time, in a different medium." (As told to Ila Pal, Beyond the Canvas, New Delhi, 1994.)