Estate auction highlights ‘Painter of Monadnock’

22antiques - Painting of Mt. Washington & Saco River by W.H. Titcomb. (Willis Henry Auctions)
Willis Henry Auctions
“Mt. Washington and the Saco River,” an oil on board ($2,500-$4,500) by William Henry Titcomb (1824-88) is among paintings from the collection of the late William Moore of Milton to be offered at Willis Henry’s estates and antiques auction next weekend in Plymouth. Titcomb, who was born in Raymond, N.H., painted mostly farm scenes from around Raymond and Exeter, N.H., until 1848, when he moved to Boston to take art lessons. There he met Benjamin Champney (1817-1907), a fellow student from New Ipswich, N.H., one of whose landscapes is also being offered from the Moore collection.

Jewelry from the estate of Priscilla Crocker Archibald of Duxbury, who died in 2013 at 92, will be featured at Willis Henry’s two-day estates and antiques auction at the Radisson Hotel Plymouth Harbor, with the jewelry being sold March 28 at 3 p.m. and property from other estates March 29 at 1 p.m.

Highlighting the 68 lots of rings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins are an 18-karat gold pendant set with a 2.34-carat old mine-cut diamond ($15,000-$20,000) and a 14-karat gold ring whose three diamonds together weigh three carats ($10,000-$15,000).

A highlight of the March 29 auction is a selection of paintings and etchings from the estate of William Moore of Milton, who died last year at 68. A collector of New England landscapes, Moore was a teacher at Milton Academy for 30 years until his retirement in 2008.


Among the paintings being sold is a landscape ($3,000-$5,000) by William Preston Phelps (1848-1923) of his family’s farm at Chesham, near Dublin, N.H., which he left when he was 14 to work for a sign painter in Lowell.

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Occasionally after work Phelps, who from childhood had loved to draw, would go into Boston to take an art lesson. By the time he was 27 he had his own sign painting shop, where he displayed his paintings in the window. The paintings attracted such attention that a group of civic-minded Lowell citizens anxious for the industrial city to acquire a cultural image raised money for Phelps to study abroad.

Off and on over the next five years he lived and painted in Europe, returning to Lowell in 1881 to open a studio. After his father’s death in 1888, Phelps moved back to the family farm with its compelling view of Mount Monadnock, which he painted so often that he came to be known as “the painter of Monadnock.” Today the William Preston Phelps and Ina Phelps Hayward papers (1848-1990) are in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Phelps’s daughter Ina Kittredge Phelps (1871-1944) became an artist in her own right.

Furniture in the sale ranges from an 18th-century maple desk on frame ($2,000-$3,000) that descended in the Solomon Lincoln family of Hingham, to a Federal North Shore mahogany games table ($3,000-$4,000) to an early-20th-century Sessions Clock Co. regulator ($300-$400) that kept time for decades in a country store.



A collection of Asian art, including 60 museum-quality Chinese jade objects amassed over nearly 60 years by Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt of New York, will be sold by James D. Julia March 23 at 10 a.m. at its Fairfield, Maine, gallery.

The jade objects are from the Yangtze River Collection, named for China’s 3,195-mile-long river, along whose banks jade was exploited from prehistoric times. The collection, purchased by Wall-Apelt in 1993, was previously owned by a Nationalist Party member who fled in 1949 to Taiwan when the communists took over rule of mainland China.

Wall-Apelt’s interest in Chinese culture and Asian arts dates to when she was 15 and was left a bronze Buddha by her father when he died. A German physician who had fled with his family to Switzerland after his medical license was revoked by the Nazis, he had turned to Eastern meditation and Asian arts as a way of dealing with the pain and suffering of the war and its aftermath.

Over the years the Buddha served to remind Wall-Apelt what a source of strength meditation and Asian arts had been to her father, and in time she, too, was drawn to the culture, objects, and practices of the Chinese. Like her father, she became a doctor, first in Germany and later in this country.

The Yangtze River Collection is topped by a pair of palace-style bowls, a three-part carved brush holder, and a nearly 2-foot-high carving depicting a mountain with villages, people, and buildings. All three jade objects are from the 18th and 19th centuries and each has a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.


The more than 400 other lots of Asian art are highlighted by a pair of Ming period (1368-1644) 45-inch-by-30-inch cast iron Buddha lions, a late Ming dynasty (16th-17th century) nearly 5½-foot gilt lacquer figure of Vairocana, the Buddha of wisdom, and a collection of about 800 rare Asian photographs of people and places mostly from the 19th century. The estimates are $60,000-$80,000 for the Buddha lions, $40,000-$60,000 for the Buddha, and $425,000-$525,000 for the photographs.


Skinner’s Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets Auction March 28 at 1 p.m. at its Boston gallery features more than 300 antique rugs, carpets, and textiles.

Among the rarer offerings are a mid-19th-century Tekke “Animal Tree” engsi that originally hung inside the door of a West Turkestan tent ($8,000-$10,000) and a pair of early-19th-century Chinese pillar rugs ($3,000-$4,000), long narrow rugs designed to wrap around the pillars in Buddhist temples and monasteries but used now mostly to cover furniture and on walls.

Among the textile offerings are a Greek island silk on linen embroidered yastik, pillow or bolster cover ($2,000-$2,500) and a collection of early Kashmir shawls from North India including a circa 1825 “moon shawl” ($2,200-$2,500) and a circa 1825 nearly 10-foot long shawl ($1,200-$1,500).

Among the auction’s expected top sellers are three late-19th-century Persian carpets, a 15-foot-6-inch-by-12-foot Serapi ($18,000-$20,000), a 14-foot-4-inch-by-12-foot-7-inch Bakshaish and a 10-foot-by-11-foot Karadja, each with a $12,000-$15,000 estimate, while topping the Caucasian rugs is a mid-19th-century 7-foot-4-inch-by-5 foot-10-inch Karachov Kazak rug from southwest Caucasus ($10,000-$12,000).

An unusual small Caucasian rug is the 2-foot-4-inch-by-3-foot-4-inch Kuba with a large terracotta-colored fox depicted on a blue landscape. The estimate is $400-$500.


The 8th annual AD 20/21: Art & Design of the 20th & 21st Centuries and the concurrent 16th annual Boston Print Fair open at The Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts March 26 with a gala preview from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at which Robert Campbell, the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic, will be presented the 2015 AD 20/21 Lifetime award.

Tickets are $250 for 5:30 VIP admission and $125 for 6:30 admission. They may be purchased on the AD 20/21 website (www.AD20/ or by calling 617-363-0405.

The art and design show, which continues through March 29, features modern to contemporary fine art, mid-century furnishings and contemporary studio furniture, jewelry, decorative arts, and sculpture, while the Print Fair features fine and contemporary prints, photography, drawings, and other works on paper.

Weekend hours are 1-8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, and 11-5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 and include admission to the weekend events that include panel discussions and book signings. For more information, visit the AD 20/21 website.

AD 20/21 is the culminating event of the 2d annual Boston Design Week, a 10-day festival of 60 citywide events March 19-29. For the calendar of events, visit

Virginia Bohlin can be reached at