Born in 1916 in Hyderabad, Sindh, Leela (Mansukhani) Mukherjee completed her schooling from the Theosophical Girls School in Benares. After graduating with a degree in Science from Bombay University in 1937, she opted to study Art at Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan under the renowned artists Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij.
In 1944 she married Benode Behari Mukherjee. In 1947 assisted him on his monumental mural at the Hindi Bhavan, Santiniketan, based on the lives of medieval Indian saints. In 1948 visited Kathmandu, Nepal, where her husband was working as the curator of the national museum, and learnt wood carving from the master craftsman Sri Kulsunder. On her return to India in 1950, Leela Mukherjee exhibited her sculptures for the first time in a group show, in Patna.
In 1954, she joined the Welham Preparatory School, Dehradun to set up their Art Department. She taught at Welham’s till 1974, during this period she executed two large murals (which can still be seen at the School) and continued to make her own art.
In 1975, Leela Mukherjee moved to Delhi and joined the Lalit Kala Akademi studios in Garhi where she began etching and printmaking in the Graphics department. She also started casting in bronze while painting and drawing at home. During this period she exhibited in several group shows organised by the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lalit Kala Akademi and AIFACS
Leela Mukherjee is now recognised as one of the first women sculptors from India who worked with the 'vigor and tenacity of a real sculptor' (Ramkinkar Baij)
In contrast to the distorted, anguished view of the self and the other in the works of expressionist painters, Leela Mukehrjee's world-view is more holistic. It is a reflection of life that is germinating, pulsating, burgeoning. Her world is not anthropocentric although it is a humane one. Plants, flowers, monkeys, horses, cows, birds, children, adults claim equal attention in a colourful mosaic of existence.
Ella Dutta, in The Time of India, 1989