Initially, he devoted himself to poetry and calligraphy with a strong interest in early scripts. He also led the Xiling Society of the Seal Art, an academic organisation for Hangzhou-based seal artists. Only later did he consider himself a painter associated with the "Shanghai school." As a painter, he was noted for helping to rejuvenate the art of painting flowers and birds. He considered carving seals and doing paintings to be integrated to each other.
His work garnered him fame and was highly regarded in Japan.