See Hiang To was born in Fujian in 1906 into a family of calligraphers and Chinese literati painters. At a young age, he picked up calligraphy and seal carving from his father and grandfather, who were also masters of the mediums. See also cited calligrapher Wu Changshuo and the Shanghai School (a style of Chinese art originating from Shanghai during the late 19th century) as his major influences. See emigrated to Singapore in 1938, and over time, the subject matter in his paintings began to steer away from traditional Shanghai School themes of birds and flowers. Instead, he increasingly reflected on scenes and the living environment in Southeast Asia.
Chrysanthemum and Gourd attests to See’s an excellent grasp of Chinese ink painting. His controlled brush strokes are simultaneously spontaneous, adding movement to the leaves and flowers in the background. The negative space he cleverly positions in his depiction of the gourds mimics the reflection of light on its smooth surface. The irregular placement of the chrysanthemum and gourds further injects vitality into the painting. The top left of the artwork features See’s outstanding calligraphy and name seal. See believes that mastering the former is imperative to understanding Chinese ink painting.