Modern and Contemporary Art from India
February 25, 2011 through September 4, 2011, San Jose Museum of Art
Acrylic on canvas
51 x 91 inches
Collection of Anita and Sridar Iyengar
Photo: Courtesy Saffronart

Maqbool Fida Husain
Born 1915, Pundharpur, Maharashtra, India
Died 2011 in London

Maqbool Fida Husain was deeply moved by meeting Mother Teresa and he depicted her in this series of paintings. He explained: “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. I did not cry at this encounter. I returned with so much strength and sadness that it continues to ferment within.”1

Here, Husain emulated the composition of Michelangelo’s early Pieta, withMother Teresa holding a young boy, possibly an orphan, on her lap. Husain is often inspired by Renaissance art and Mother Teresa’s white sari with a blue border recalls the attire of saints. In this series, Husain demonstrated his ongoing concern with themes of motherhood and female sacrifice. His female figures are frequently faceless beings; his own mother died when he was two years old.

1 Maqbool Fida Husain, quoted in Yashodhara Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 116.