AMERICAN MARINE PAINTING

, second edition,

by John Wilmerding (Abrams, $40).

The author, deputy director of the National Gallery of Washington, wants to remove marine painting from its traditional place as a sub-category of landscape painting and establish it as an independent type. He defines marine painting as views of sea, harbor and shore. The emphasis is definitely saltwater. Here then is shipping, fishing and sailing as viewed in American painting from colonial times to the present. What a pity Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, both of whom prized marine painting, aren't around to inspect this beautiful volume, which opens with an epigraph of Marsden Hartley: "And let them have the sea/ Who want eternity." Reproductions of works by famous painters -- Winslow Homer, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Eakins and George Bellows -- are side-by-side with the seascapes of the less famous -- Thomas Buttersworth, Robert Salmon, Fitz Hugh Lane and Thomas Birch. It would take a very prosaic person not to be stirred by Homer's Breezing Up (A Fair Wind) or Buttersworth's Clipper Ship "Great Republic." There are 180 illustrations in this updating of the out-of-print 1968 work, including 80 in color, 60 more than in the earlier edition.

THE SHIPS OF JOHN PAUL JONES

,

by William Gilkerson (Naval Institute Press, $32.95) and

JOHN PAUL JONES AND THE "BONHOMME RICHARD": A Reconstruction of the Ship and an Account of the Battle With HMS Serapis

,

by Jean Boudriot, translated from the French by David H. Roberts

(Naval Institute Press, $39.95).

"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way," said the father of the U.S. Navy. Here are the ships of that intrepid sailor, explained and illustrated in lavish detail, along with accounts of his rise from shipstruck Scottish gardener's boy to scourge of the English coast during the American Revolution. The first of these volumes reproduces 64 paintings, watercolors and drawings (12 in color) by maritime artist Gilkerson, noteworthy for their fine draftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail; there are not, it turns out, many persons around who have any idea how an 18th-century ship was rigged. The other book, by a French nautical scholar, solves a longstanding historical mystery: the appearance of Jones' famous Bonhomme Richard, sunk in the North Sea off Flamborough Head in 1779, after defeating HMS Serapis in an especially fierce ship-to-ship duel. Using a computer and plans of similar vessels in the archives of the French East India Company, the author recreates the ship virtually timber-by-timber.

CHARLESTON'S MARITIME HERITAGE, 1670-1865

, by P.C. Coker III

(CokerCraft Press, P.O. Box 176, Charleston, SC 29402, $40).

Thank goodness for local pride! Here is a triumph of local history, handsomely illustrated and full of information and fascinating nautical lore. Charleston's fame as a maritime center has long been eclipsed by many a New England coastal town (think only of Salem and Marblehead). The author seeks to redress the balance with this encyclopedic account of Charleston's rise and fall as the premier shipping and shipbuilding center of the South. Here are stirring tales of pirates and privateers, of blockade runners and torpedo rams, of ironclads and monitors. The Civil War section, which includes a two-page, full color reproduction of John Ross Key's panoramic painting, The Bombardment of Fort Sumter, is alone worth the purchase price.

Reid Beddow

Baubles and Bangles

THE QUEEN'S JEWELS

, by Leslie Field (Abrams, $29.95).

Even if one has little interest in tiaras, brooches or chokers, this lovingly researched and beautifully presented book makes for irresistible reading. Though American-born, Field was, most recently, editor of the "veddy British" institution, The Tatler, and she had unprecedented cooperation from Buckingham Palace for her project. The result is a rare sense of closeness to the actual royal family itself. For, as one quickly learns, these jewels -- 1,000 pieces have accumulated in Elizabeth II's collection -- link the generations of wearers in ways both historical and personal. There are superbly selected photos, as well as a useful family tree on the endpapers, an impressive bibliography and a glossary that defines such unfamiliar words as "spinel" and "girandole."

THE HISTORY OF BEADS: From 30,000 B.C. to the Present

, by Lois Sherr Dubin

(Abrams, $60).

Stopping momentarily in front of, say, an ancient necklace displayed behind glass in a museum, one might have the glimmering of an idea that beads are small objects with larger significance. However, after browsing even briefly in this amazing and elegant book, you'll return to look at the necklace with new eyes. Dubin, fascinated with beads and bead lore for 30 years, ranges across the globe and back through countless civilizations, weaving together information about craftsmanship, rare materials, trade routes, religious practices, political upheaval, etc. Especially useful is her final integration of this enormous mass of material into the "Bead Chart: A Time Line of Bead History," and, probably, many readers will head straight for their jewelry boxes to compare what they have with what they see.

THE JEWELS OF THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR

,

by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner

(Vendome Press in association with Sotheby's, $50).

Last April the astounding sum of $45 million -- 50 times the list price -- was raised when the jewelry of the Duchess of Windsor was auctioned in Switzerland. The collection commemorating so many moments of that history-making passion went piecemeal to new owners, even though the duke had expressed the desire that the creations themselves be broken up, keeping anyone but his duchess from ever wearing what was designed for her. Now comes a book uniting in one place those far-flung gems for the last time. As might be expected, the lavish stones take second place to the story -- told here again -- of perhaps the most lavish romantic gesture the world has ever known. Well-illustrated and with a straightforward text only occasionally lapsing into gush, this book is, for all its glitter, a luxury item that's somehow sad, like its subjects. As an unexpected "companion piece" to The Queen's Jewels, it makes one see how the king who abdicated tried so hard to recreate for his consort a semblance of the royal treasure left behind.

Michele Slung

Joys of Motion

DANCE AND PHOTOGRAPHY

, by Willam A. Ewing

(Henry Holt, $50).

Dance, writes William A. Ewing, can be said to be a language. But, he argues, so can photography, with its tones, contrasts, textures, grains, multiple exposures, and other technical effects. Presented here is a history of dance photography that begins with some of the earliest photographs -- a daguerreotype of an anonymous American dancer from 1849; a plate from Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion, 1887. There are also sections that show how photography was used to document dancers and their work, costumes and sets; how it has been used to publicize; and how those who were not primarily photographers of dance (journalists like Margaret Bourke-White) brought their own sensibilities to the dance pictures they took. There are more than 200 photographs and the range is exhilarating -- the dancers range from Nijinsky to Gregory Hines, the photographers from Helmut Newton to James Van Der Zee, and the scenes captured from a children's class in a Harlem dance studio to immigrants at Ellis Island.

David Nicholson

Faraway Places

A TUSCAN VINEYARD

,

by Julian More, photographs by Carey More

(Henry Holt, $19.95).

We've all seen classic Italian paintings: A Madonna smiles in the foreground. But behind her, presented in subtle color and minute detail is an exquisitely pleasing landscape, in which you can just make out the manor that dominates the countryside, a scene of seasonal farmwork, some tiny human drama. The Mores -- writer father and photographer daughter -- have fashioned a literary equivalent of those distant vistas. Their delicate travel book is a meandering contemplation of Tuscany that blends regional history, food and wine lore, entries from a yearlong diary, and personal anecdote. Savor it.

THE HIDDEN HIMALAYAS

,

photographs by Thomas L. Kelly, text by Carroll Dunham

(Abbeville, $45).

Travelers may routinely trek the Himalayan foothills today, but an inside look at Humla, in the far northwestern corner of Nepal, is still a rarity. For the various Buddhist and Hindu peoples who live in this harsh land of stunning mountains, life is regulated by the rhythms of the seasons and the dictates of ritual. Using pictures, thoughtful introductions, and lengthy captions, the authors record and explain the look of the land and the tasks of daily life. Their poetry emerges in their portraits: traders at a market, guests at a wedding, children playing under a blossoming peach tree.

EYE ON AUSTRALIA

,

by Michael Ruetz

(New York Graphic Society/Little Brown, $50).

Taking as models the sweeping landscape paintings of the 19th century, German photographer Ruetz turns his camera lens on the expanses of Australia. His subjects -- always eerily devoid of people -- are presented in a broad and sometimes even foldout format, so that the pictures encompass the human eye's natural wide angle. Whether Ruetz focuses on the natural wonder of Ayers Rock or on a Sydney Harbor cityscape, the light is luminous, the look extraordinary.

QUIET BEAUTY OF CHINA

,

by Pat Fok

(Rizzoli, $35).

Pat Fok leaves aside teeming cities and now familiar monuments in favor of the places that inspired 8th-century poets and 16th-century painters. She approaches her settings (one mountain, one river, a primeval forest, a faraway plateau and a small village) with "a quiet eye and a quiet mind," she writes. Though one might wish for better color reproduction, Fok's dream-world images of a cormorant fisherman on a gravel riverbank and fantastic peaks rising from a sea of clouds bring to contemporary life the words and visions of ancient artists.

PROVENCE

,

by John Flower,

photographs by Charlie Waite

(Salem House Publishers, $29.95).

The light and color for which the south of France is famous are preserved in generous measure in the inviting illustrations for this narrative guidebook to Provence. John Flower's information-packed text acknowledges the artists of Arles and the cuisine of Aix, as well as the sinister atmosphere of Marseilles and the trendy cafes of St. Tropez. But he also tours stony hilltop villages and wild marshes and mountains, enthusiastically outlining the region's vibrant culture and history.

ABOVE THE HOLY LAND

,

by Baron Wollman

(Chronicle Books, $20.95);

THE HOLY LAND FROM THE AIR

,

text by Amos Elon,

photographs by Richard Nowitz

(Harry N. Abrams, Inc./The Domino Press, $39.95);

ITALY FROM THE AIR

,

by Folco Quilici

(Harry N. Abrams, Inc., $39.95.

What is the fascination of an aerial photograph? Is it the appeal of omniscience, if only for the time it takes to turn a page? Three books -- two of them about Israel -- use a bird's-eye view to show off geographic diversity and to trace the effects of human endeavor on a land. Baron Wollman's pictures speak effectively for themselves. The photographer finds distinctive patterns and colors in a palm grove as easily as in the sacred byways of Jerusalem, and his talent for lighting and composition lend wit and style to his work. The Elon-Nowitz book sets its subjects in the context of millenia-old culture. You see the shrines, the desert, the Roman ruins and the modern country through the stories of the Bible and the events of history. Folco Quilici also tours his native Italy with the past on his mind. He presents tiled-roof villages clustered on terraced hillsides and marble monuments at the center of spokelike streets. the photograph that stands out, however, shows Easter Sunday celebrants thronging a medieval town square. It's the human image that calls out to us most forcefully, after all.

By Joan Tapper

Looking It Up

THE GREAT WORLD ATLAS, deluxe edition

(American Map Corporation, $80).

For those who like their cartography in an elegant package, the American Map Corporation has taken last year's Great World Atlas, doubled the price, and placed it in an attractive leather binding. This atlas goes for the big picture, which makes it only an adequate reference for plotting a vacation. The five states in the Pacific Northwest, for instance, are dispatched in one double-page spread. Where the book shines is in its 32 satellite photos, which cover landscapes from the New York metro area to the oil fields along the Iraq-Kuwait border. These vividly portray the nuances of history, such as the fact that river mud has pushed the Iraqi port of Abadan, which was on the Persian Gulf in the 10th century, back 31 miles from the coast. Also included are 50 pages of top-notch thematic maps, ranging from military-political alliances to the location of underground volcanoes.

CHRONICLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY

edited by Clifton Daniel

(Chronicle Publications, $49.95).

This may be the heaviest book published this year. Read it in bed and you risk pulling a muscle; drop it in the bath and you'll cause a tidal wave. Why read it at all? Well, the Chronicle takes the pleasures of trivia to a new height. Meandering over its 1,357 pages is the story of the century, laid bare in all its excesses, triviality, humor and horror. The format is straightforward: a calendar with one sentence about the significant occurences for each month is presented alongside news stories that flesh out the major events. The writing is subtly informed by hindsight, of course, and part of the fun is trying to see how much the coverage of, say, the rise of Nazi Germany is affected by the writers' knowledge of what happened later.

THE ATLAS OF MYSTERIOUS PLACES

edited by Jennifer Westwood

(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $29.95).

The usual way to write about spots like Stonehenge, Troy and Machu Picchu is to shroud them in adjectives, romance and blather. This book takes a more businesslike approach, seeking only to understand exactly how our ancestors built Chartres, why there was a neolithic fertility center at Avebury, and who the sibyl at Cumae was. The text is straightforward without an excess of detail; the pictures effective without being lavish. The contributors should also get credit for presenting some of the lesser-known mysterious locales, including Ayers Rock, Petra and Palenque.

THE HARPER ATLAS OF WORLD HISTORY

edited by Pierre Vidal-Naquet

(Harper & Row, $29.95).

Learning history in school was never this colorful. Starting with Australopithecus and ending in 1982, this handsome effort -- translated from the French original -- uses paintings, drawings, maps and text engagingly to provide a fuller understanding of the past. The format involves a double-page spread for each topic -- Roman Gaul, monasticism, Romanesque art and socialism in Europe are four random examples. The book is a pleasure to peruse, especially since it gives full treatment to such non-Western civilizations as the Incas and the early Chinese dynasties.

David Streitfeld

Eureka!

THE TRADITION OF SCIENCE

by Leonard C. Bruno

(Library of Congress, $30).

Many of the original documents in the evolution of scientific thought now reside in the Library of Congress. Bruno, the library's senior science specialist, takes the reader on a tour of the collection, explaining the science in fields from astronomy to zoology and the significance of each major advancement. His is not a formal survey loaded down with footnotes and citations. Rather, the book demonstrates both the brilliant insights of human beings into their world and the very humanity of the scientific process itself. The advances have been made by the famous -- Pasteur, Galileo, Newton, Freud and Einstein -- and the obscure but nonetheless important, such as astronomer Tycho Brahe who described the supernova of 1572 and plant physiologist and Dutch physician Jan Ingenhousz. The book contains more than 200 illustrations, many from the collection. It also includes color prints of birds by Audubon and Mark Catesby and wild flowers by Pierre Joseph Redoute.

The Great Scientists

by Jack Meadows

(Oxford University Press, $35).

Extensively illustrated, this book seeks to understand the advances of scientific thought through the lives and times of a dozen scientists. Meadows, professor of library and information studies at the University of Loughborough, examines how the social conditions and the events of an era shaped scientific problems and the men who solved them. For example, he shows how blockades of French ports led to the discovery of the sodium carbonate needed to make gunpowder. Those profiled include Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Harvey, Lavoisier, Humboldt, Faraday, Darwin, Pasteur, Curie, Freud and Einstein.

The History of Invention: From Stone Axes to Silicon Chips

by Trevor I. Williams

(Facts on File, $35).

From stone knives and bear skins to computer chips and automobiles, people have learned to fabricate objects out of need and out of desire. In most cases, the commodities typify each epoch, the ages of stone, bronze, iron, or the modern age. Williams, editor of the international scientific review Endeavour, argues that "invention is the essence of civilization," and then describes how technology has shaped civilization. The History of Invention is a demanding book, though written in a straightforward way; it connects technology to history and geography in tracing the impact of such inventions as the aqueduct and the alphabet on the world.

The International Encyclopedia of Astronomy

edited by Patrick Moore

(Orion Books, $40).

Dense as a black hole, this encyclopedia ofers a cluster of essays: More than 2,500 brief articles on the more complicated cosmological concepts, shorter definitions of astronomic issues and equipment, and more fascinating factoids than the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter has asteroids. In addition, some 600 photographs and sketches brighten this guide to everything celestial from Crab Nebula to Yuri Gagarin.

Dinosaurs Past and Present, Volume 1

edited by Sylvia J. Czerkas and Everett C. Olson

(University of Washington Press, $35.)

Based on an exhibition and symposium organized by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in February 1986, this book dramatically shows how artistic interpretation interacts with available scientific data to create our most vivid impressions of the largest beasts ever to roam the earth. Richly illustrated (sometimes with stunning images from the exhibit itself), the book's topics range from symposium debates on the nature of the dinosaur (strong, agile, warm-blooded beasts? Or cold-blooded sluggards munching grass in shallow pools?) to the survival problems faced by smaller lizards and the underappreciated art of studying dinosaur footprints.

Larry Thompson

Frame-Ups

JAMES ABBOTT MCNEILL WHISTLER

by John Walker

(Abrams, $35).

As John Walker -- former director of the National Gallery of Art -- points out, Washington's Freer Gallery is a mecca for any admirer of Whistler. The Peacock Room alone is a masterpiece containing masterpieces. This volume in the Library of American Art draws on the scholarly work of others for most of its biographical and critical opinion, but Walker's aim is to provide a modest and entertaining introduction to Whistler, at once a painter to rival Turner and a wit to match Oscar Wilde. (Whistler once commented that his birthplace was Lowell, Mass., because "he felt an obligation to be near his mother.") In his text Walker details such episodes as the famous suit Whistler brought against Ruskin, who had declared that the rather abstract Falling Rocket was the consequence of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." In the resulting trial all London society had to draw up sides between the moralist critic and the practitioner of art for art's sake. (Whistler won, but just barely: he was granted damages of one farthing -- a quarter of a penny.) The Whistler paintings now most admired -- most of them with abstract titles like Arrangement in Gray and Black (more familiarly known as Whistler's Mother) -- draw the eye away from Walker's text, and it is hard not to linger over their haunting, impressionist evocations of 19th-century London and Paris. 110 illustrations, 55 in color.

TOULOUSE-LAUTREC

by Gotz Adriani

(Thames and Hudson, $60).

To look at the paintings and drawings of Toulouse Lautrec is to enter the Paris of Maupassant, Pierre Loti and Paul de Kock, a world of casual prostitutes and tubby businessmen, of boulevardiers and ballet dancers, of dance halls and maisons de passe, a place where everyone exudes a tired sensuality. Adriani, head of the Tu bingen art museum, provides elaborate catalogue notes to the 217 reproductions, while also trying to establish more clearly Lautrec's debt to Manet and Degas as well as his influence on Van Gogh and Picasso. 217 illustrations, 95 in color.

PETER PAUL RUBENS

by Christopher White (Yale, $65).

Leonardo is often set forth as the prototype of the Renaissance man, but Rubens might make an even better example. Besides being one of the most eminent painters of his time, he was also a diplomat, collector, scholar of the classics and adviser to princes. Christopher White, director of the Ashmolean Museum and a noted scholar of Dutch art, points out that Rubens carefully spent much of his early life copying other masters and gradually building up a "library of visual information," a library from which he borrowed elements for his own painting. Unlike many art books, this one is a genuinely scholarly yet eminently readable survey of its subject's life and career. The reproductions are as luscious as whipped cream, the colors themselves as sensual as any nude (of which there are many, since no one has ever painted better the glow and suppleness of flesh), and the whole book a formidable work of appreciation and understanding.

RENOIR: A Retrospective

edited by Nicholas Wadley

(Hugh Lauter Levin, $60).

Rather than writing straight biography or art criticism, Wadley has drawn on the memoirs and anecdotage of people who knew Renoir to set forth a kind of cubist portrait of the Impressionist master. The effect, he hopes, will help reestablish Renoir as a serious painter, since the past several decades have seen a serious decline in his critical reputation. For many Renoir seems a rather too exuberant "lover of life" and his painting saccharine in technique and subject matter: Too often there is something marshmallowy at his center. Still some paintings like the Phillips' Luncheon of the Boating Party are indisputable masterpieces that anyone can praise without a qualm, and the memoirs of the artist by Zola, Vale'ry, Ambroise Vollard, Mary Cassatt and his son Jean Renoir make for compelling reading. 240 illustrations, 124 in color.

HENRI MATISSE: The Early Years in Nice 1916-1930

by Jack Cowart and Dominique Fourcade

(Abrams/National Gallery, $45).

What could be happier than the paintings of Matisse, especially those that capture the glint and glow of light along the Cote d'Azur? In recent years Matisse, for many years overshadowed by his longtime rival Picasso, has grown to become just about everyone's favorite 20th-century painter. This is a danger -- he might become our Renoir -- but for now his swaths of color, his sense of light, his atmosphere of quiet sensuousness seem the very image of earthly paradise. Who would not sit at a Matisse window, looking out on the Mediterranean, with a bowl of peaches to savor and a languorous companion nearby? Cowart contributes an essay appealingly titled "The Place of Silvered Light" that chronicles Matisse's life in the South of France, while other scholars provide articles on collecting, the place of Nice in his art and a catalogue of his work. 460 illustrations, with 188 in full color.

PAUL GAUGUIN: Life and Work

by Michel Hoog

(Rizzoli, $85);

GAUGUIN: Life, Art, Inspiration

by Yann le Pichon

(Abrams, $49.50).

Some years back the Art Students League, hoping to encourage people to take classes in painting, published a poster showing a somewhat familiar looking face behind a teller's cage. The lettering above said: "At 40 Paul Gauguin worked in a bank" and underneath "There is always time." Implicit here is the myth of Gauguin -- the painter who in midlife rejected bourgeois comfort and ranged across the world, to settle finally in the South Pacific where he discovered in savage life his own artistic destiny. These two books, each by highly regarded French art scholars, chronicle that search: Hoog's is the more elaborate and traditional text, with splendid reproductions (217 illustrations, 150 in color) of Tahitian bathing beauties, still-lifes and proto-abstract tableaux. The Pichon covers the same canvas, but focuses on the sources of Gauguin's inspirations -- "the friends, personal experiences, public events, natural environment, and social context" that shaped his vision. There are more illustrations here -- 495 altogether, with 150 in color -- but they tend to be smaller and less vibrant than those in Hoog's book.

JOAN MIRO: A Retrospective

(Guggenheim/Yale, $50).

Miro was one of those painters -- like Michelangelo, Titian and Picasso -- who lived a very long life, and whose career traversed a half dozen schools and trends in art. This retrospective, accompanied by essays on Miro's cubism, surrealism, his war work and his last years when he turned to broad, bold effects, exemplifies the restlessness of this Catalan artist. The early portraits -- reminiscent of a mild George Grosz -- lead into quilt-like still-lifes, then Klee-like abstract charcoal sketches, on to the comic Dadaist assemblages, through Dali-like visions and finally to splashes of color overlaid with thick calligraphic strokes. Perhaps the fact that in looking at Miro one thinks first of other artists suggests that he is not quite of the first water. But these images are nonetheless winning, and this trip through his work is well worth taking. 150 reproductions, with commentary.

LUCIAN FREUD: Paintings

by Robert Hughes

(Thames and Hudson, $40).

Robert Hughes maintains, with the authority that had made The Shock of the New such a persuasive account of modern art, that Lucian Freud "has become the greatest living realist painter." Looking at Freud's paintings their subject matter may not be new -- portraits, nudes, occasional landscapes -- but the shock is definitely there. The grandson of Sigmund Freud, the painter has been dubbed the "Ingres of Existentialism," and his best paintings do seem to combine all these heritages: the photographic quality of the French master's painting and a strange haunted look to the portraits -- large piercing eyes, stark backgrounds -- that hint at just barely controlled hysteria or despair. What could be more modern? The nudes, however, are so graphic that some viewers may find them too disturbing -- none of the happy, chrome-plated beauties of Tom Wesselmann here, only the unembarrassed display of bodies, captured beneath the glare of klieg lights. A remarkable artist, accompanied by an exceptionally fine monograph by Hughes and 95 illustrations, 88 in color.

Michael Dirda

Height of Fashion

A LADY OF FASHION: Barbara Johnson's Album of Styles and Fabrics

edited by Natalie Rothstein

(Thames and Hudson, $75).

Imagine a woman so concerned with the colors, patterns and textures of her clothing that she kept a scrap of silk, cotton or wool from each of her dresses over a 75-year period. Not to mention a detailed description of the fabric, the yardage needed for the garment, its cost and date of purchase, as well as matching engravings illustrating fashions of the times. Such was the record kept by Barbara Johnson, an unmarried woman from a well-off but not wealthy English 18th-century family, from the time she was 18 until just before she died. Johnson's extraordinary volume, which remained in family hands for 150 years is now too fragile to be examined by students of fashion and design. This facsimile edition, accompanied by scholarly essays on the woman, her family, and on fashion and textiles of the period, as well as information about the account book in which she made her entries, is an unusual and captivating record of an era known to most people primarily through the novels of another unmarried lady with an uncanny eye for such detail -- Jane Austen.

DREAM HOUSES

by Mary Gilliatt

(Little Brown, $35).

The desire to peer into tomes that immortalize the houses of the rich and famous -- or to put it more accurately, the rich -- shows signs of abating. And the question that publishers appear to face these days is how to find yet another format to entice the book-buying public. This time out, the well-known design writer and interior designer Mary Gilliatt has given us "dream houses." Her choices range from examples as diverse as a late 19th-century copy of a Louis XVI folly near Paris to a splendid, highly patterned little-known 16th-century palace in India's princely state of Rajasthan to a 20th-century interpretation of a Roman suburban villa built along a bayside stretch in Corpus Christi, Texas. Gilliatt has probed just about every habitable corner of the world for her selections, and although some of the more predictable choices produce a sense of de'ja vu, others -- for example, a stunning 1920s house restored for the 1980s in Brussels or the unabashedly Grecophile Villa Kerylos near Cap Ferrat -- are indeed dreamy houses.

SCANDANAVIA: Living Design

by Elizabeth Gaynor,

photographs by Karl Haavisto

(Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $35).

This exquisitely photographed volume pans a wide lens over the fine arts, crafts and residential architecture of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. Instead of treating the subject chronologically or country by country, the book examines Scandinavian design according to characteristics shared by the entire area: Among them, the forests that provide wood for carved and painted furniture and decorative objects; the waterways that both separate and connect the individual countries as well as offer a means of livelihood. Anyone who thought that Scandinavian design was relegated to a cache of knock-down furniture discovered in a teak forest sometime around 1960 is in for a pleasant surprise.

ADIRONDACK FURNITURE AND THE RUSTIC TRADITION

by Craig Gilborn

(Abrams, $60).

No style of furniture developed in this country is more indigenously American than the twig, branch and log furniture known as Adirondack. Developed in the late 19th century for the camps, cottages and resorts that had sprang up in the Adirondack park and were wooing city dwellers into the great outdoors, that rustic furniture has recently become quite stylish, but until now little documented. This meticulously researched volume by Craig Gilborn, the director of the Adirondack Museum, details and describes the many different styles that emerged then; identifies many of the furniture makers; and brings them to life by rooting them in their unique social and sociological context.

CONRAN'S DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME DESIGN: A Complete Guide to Decorating and Maintaining Your Home

by Jocasta Innes and Jill Blake

(Viking, $24.95).

The premise to this idea-packed book is that the key to decorating success is confidence. To that end, the reader is introduced to just about every aspect of the interior design and physical maintenance of the inside of a house or apartment. Although its point-of-view is English (the book bears the imprimatur of Britain's far-sighted design guru, Sir Terence Conran), its encouraging no-nonsense text and well-selected photographs are the sort that will foster its use as a handy reference. And the do-it-yourself illustrations and charts are enough to give the prospective handyman or woman a sense of the difficulty or ease of the task.

TIFFANY'S 150 YEARS

by John Loring, introduction by Louis Auchincloss

(Doubleday, $50).

On Sept. 21, 1837, amidst bank failures and the so-called "Panic of 1837," Charles Louis Tiffany and John P. Young opened a stationery and fancy dry goods store in Lower Manhattan. Their original cash book, which has been preserved in the carefully maintained Tiffany archives, recorded $4.98 worth of sales that first day. In the century and a half since then, Tiffany has become synonymous with what John Loring, the company's design director for the past eight years, describes in this sumptuous volume as "the marriage of wealth and decorative arts in America." A social history as well as an abundantly illustrated record of the tasteful good design that has always been a hallmark of Tiffany's, the book offers a fascinating glimpse at some of the treasures that indeed only money can buy.

Judith Weinraub

At the Movies

HOLLYWOOD KIDS: Child Stars of the Silver Screen from 1903 to the Present

by Thomas G. Aylesworth

(Dutton, $19.95).

From 1925-45, writes author Thomas Aylesworth, "an estimated 100 children every 15 minutes poured into the Hollywood marketplace" seeking stardom. The odds were against them, but they and their parents kept coming, for children were in demand in the movies. This profusely illustrated volume of biographies and filmographies begins with the nameless little girl featured in the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery, and ends with current actors such as Drew Barrymore (E.T., Firestarter and Irreconcilable Differences) and Danny Lloyd (The Shining).

MARILYN MONROE: An Appreciation

by Eve Arnold

(Knopf, $30).

In the 10 years before Marilyn Monroe's death, photographer Eve Arnold had six photo sessions with her, the shortest two hours, the longest two months during the filming of The Misfits. Here Arnold presents more than 70 photographs of Monroe -- on the set, at public appearances, with Arthur Miller after their marriage. Monroe is by turns sweet, sexy and sultry, but there seems always to be something of the little girl lost about her.

TRUFFAUT BY TRUFFAUT

text and documents compiled by Dominique Rabourdin,

translated from the French by Robert Erich Wolf

(Abrams, $42.50 until Jan. 1; $50 after).

The noted French film director Franc ois Truffaut (who died in 1984) was also a prolific writer. In Truffaut by Truffaut, Dominique Rabourdin has collected Truffaut's words in interviews, articles, reviews, letters and publicity material. While the book begins with an autobiographical section, the bulk of the material concerns the films. These are arranged in chronological order, with Truffaut's comments and numerous photographs (about 500 in all) and reproductions of production notes.

David Nicholson

Summer Games

BASEBALL CARDS: THE GOLDEN YEARS 1886-1956

text by Frank Slocum

(Warner, $79.95).

Baseball cards have been around for 100 years, almost as long as professional baseball, and nobody can collect all of them. So, this may be the only way most of us will ever see the 1887 Cap Anson card, the famous 1910 Honus Wagner cigarette card that sells, when available, for $25,000 or more, and the Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams cards from the '20s, '30s and '40s. One major flaw: only the picture sides are shown and if they don't have the players' names, we have no way of knowing who most of them are.

Bob Kelleter

Threads

LABORS OF LOVE: America's Textiles and Needlework, 1650-1930

by Judith Weissman and Wendy Lavitt

(Knopf, $50).

Spinning contests, later followed by quilting bees, were cornerstones of social life for women in 18th- and 19th-century America, making necessity truly the mother of invention. Two folk art historians have gathered in this fascinating volume colors, crafts and cloths from every era. The most well-known examples are, of course, the quilts, particularly the stunning geometric designs from the Amish. The folklore connected with quilting bees is as colorful as the quilts themselves. One cheerful custom mentioned by the authors involved placing four unmarried women at the corners of a newly completed quilt, throwing a cat into the center of the quilt, which "was vigorously shaken; the young woman nearest the cat when she jumped out would surely be married within the year." Knitting, weaving, embroidery and even lace-making are also represented here. Catherine Van Houten in Paterson, New Jersey, was making exquisite lace in the mid-19th century, and by 1900 so was the Chippewa Indian tribe in Minnesota. Rug-making too gave endless scope to imagination and even indignation: included here is a particularly striking rug containing a group family portrait with a frank motto adjoined by the rug-maker, "I love my good man with a tender devotion but I can not go his kin!"

AMERICA'S GLORIOUS QUILTS

edited by Dennis Duke and Deborah Harding

(Hugh Lauter Levin/Macmillan, $75).

Inspired by the huge success of the Great American Quilt Festival, held in New York City in 1986, the festival's director, a book packager and a journalist this 10-part extravaganza covering every aspect of American quilt-making from such old superstitions as "never begin a quilt on a Friday" right up to abstract modern designs with acrylic paint and freefloating fabric. One quilt, created by George W. Yarrell, a silver engraver in Bowling Green, Kentucky, contains 66,153 pieces and took from 1933-35 to complete. This 14 3/4 by 10 1/2-inch book is a lucious feast of color, with text in impressively large print. The only problem with this volume as a perfect gift for a fragile quilt fanatic is its size and heft -- it ought to come with its own reading stand!

Brigitte Weeks

Shakespeare

SHAKESPEARE COUNTRY

by Susan Hill; photographs by Rod Talbot

(Michael Joseph/Viking Penguin, $22.95).

No shelf full of history texts and guidebooks could give a reader more information on Shakespeare country than this book, and certainly none could deliver the information in such a lyric and invigorating fashion. Susan Hill, a novelist, literary critic and wife of Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells, has lived near Stratford-on-Avon for 25 years, so the wealth of historical and theatrical associations of this part of the country come tumbling out naturally and abundantly in her intelligent prose. This corner of the world is certainly significant, but it is also downright beautiful, especially as seen in Rod Talbot's color photographs, which are liberally and lushly paced throughout the book. Anyone planning a visit to England, Shakespeare buff or not, will find this book essential in the preparation and a delightful traveling companion upon arrival.

THE ENGLAND OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

by Michael Justin Davis; photographs by Simon McBride

(Dutton, $24.95).

On the trail of Shakespeare, Michael Justin Davis tracks the Bard through every English town or city where he might have lived, supped or slept, or where his work might have been performed. This noble, earnest, scholarly approach documents Shakespeare's life -- from his toes to his tax records -- but it doesn't ever bring him to life. Black-and-white historical illustrations and photographs and some few contemporary color photographs combine with non-colorful prose; none of it is enough to make a reader pack his bags.

Jeanne McManus

Great Britain

THE ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE

introduction by Mark Girouard; photographs by Fred Maroon

(Thomasson-Grant, $38).

English country houses: What have Americans done without them since PBS' Brideshead series ended and the National Gallery boarded up its 1986 Treasures of Britain exhibit? This beautifully photographed book re-opens the doors to these masterpieces and allows us all to go tramping through their gleaming interiors again, wide-eyed at their lavish detail and elegant proportions. The text and photographs work together to capture more than just the stunning tapestries and the endless chandeliers; they convey the significance of these rooms to the English -- their arts, culture, society -- and to civilization as a whole. Subject matter, caption material, photographs -- the wealth is everywhere in this book, right down to the paper that it's printed on.

THE BOOK OF THE ROYAL YEAR

photographs by Tim Graham

(Summit Books, $14.95).

Anglophiles, royal watchers and readers of picture magazines: Here is a history in photographs of the royal family from Summer 1986 to Summer 1987 that brings respectability to your obsession. Official highlights of these months include Fergie's wedding to Andrew, the visit of the queen to China, and Charles and Diana's trips to the Mideast and Spain. Unofficial highlights are even more interesting: Fergie loses weight and dresses better over the months; Princess Anne makes only rare appearances; hats range from the fabulous to the hilarious; and Diana never, never looks bad, not even once.

THE ENGLISH SEASON

by Godfrey Smith; photographs by Homer Sykes

(Salem House, $24.95).

The English are very different from us -- they like to get dressed up. They wear top hats to the race track and chiffon dresses to picnics. But this formality hides an important side of the English personality: they are fun-loving, party animals. Godfrey Smith documents the English social season through 26 events, from pheasant hunting to the Chelsea Flower Show, from sporting events to intellectual pursuits. Homer Sykes' photographs capture the beautiful slices of life on the social circuit. The book infects the reader, much the way Martha Stewart's books on entertaining can actually make a reader think it is fun to serve artfully prepared, complicated and expensive meals to friends. Smith also supplies detailed information on how to get to each event -- and, more important, how to get in. Commoners will be surprised to find how accessible The Season is -- and how awash in good champagne.

MARY STUART'S SCOTLAND

by David and Judy Steel; photographs by Eric Thorburn

(Harmony Books, $19.95).

Mary Stuart ruled Scotland for only six troubled years, but she left her mark on its landscape, from the magnificent castle where she was born to the somber fortress where she was imprisoned. This nicely written and lovingly photographed book makes no attempt to editorialize on Mary's reign or to cover in detail her years in England and France. It captures, in text and illustration, the Mary that Scotland knew and, in photographs, the stunning vistas and crumbling castles of today's Scotland. It gives a tight and informative focus to a turbulent time, a beautiful country and a very complicated queen.

GLORIANA: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I

by Roy Strong

(Thames and Hudson, Inc., $27.50).

Elizabeth I may not have known much about art, but she knew what she liked: herself. She used the royal portrait to acquaint her subjects with her image (an early media campaign), to misrepresent herself as an ageless and unfailing beauty (with only some success) and to try to find a mate (to no avail). Her many years in power and the increasing popularity of the royal portrait collided, and the result is a fascinating history of art and England, inextricably fused. From Elizabeth's early depictions as a pretty young princess in 1546 to her pumped-up portraits at the end of the century, her face changes only slightly, thanks to the collaboration of the royal artists. But the trappings of power, the iconography of the throne become richer, more effusive and ornate. They tell the real story of how a single, unmarried female ruler kept a hold on England for almost five decades.

Jeanne McManus

In Full Bloom

REDOUTE'S FAIREST FLOWERS

by Martyn Rix and William T. Stearn

(Prentice Hall, $35).

This is the first full reprint in 160 years of one of the classic flower painting books of Pierre-Joseph Redoute', whose exquisite illustrations have done for flowers what the paintings of John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson have done for birds. Reproductions of Redoute''s roses are among the world's most widely sold flower illustrations and probably have appeared on more walls and calendars than those of any other artist. The reproductions in this book are so fine you could cut them out and hang them on your own walls, but then you'd lose the accompanying text by British botanical scholars Martyn Rix and William T. Stearn. They document the discovery, world travels and modern hybridizing adventures of more than 150 flowering plants selected by the redoubtable Redoute' as the "Choix des plus belles Fleurs." Here are the 18th- and 19th-century ancestors of many of our tulips, lillies, iris, camellias, roses, and even wild raspberries, strawberries and forget-me-nots. This is not the traditional botantist's anatomy of early plants and their parts, but a superb artist's delicate distillation of the essence of our favorite flowers.

THE COMPLETE FLOWER PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS OF GRAHAM STUART THOMAS

with essay and notes by the artist

(Abrams, $45).

Graham Stuart Thomas is a widely respected and oft-quoted English horticulturalist, known for his scholarly books and articles, his efforts to revive interest in old shrub roses and his design work in some 100 historic English gardens -- including Cliveden and Hidcote Manor. The 58 lifesize watercolors of flowers and the numerous pen-and-ink drawings in this book are a small but handsomely presented collection, in the long tradition of botanists who intimately know and often exactingly draw the plants they study. The watercolors are accompanied by Thomas' excellent notes. While Thomas' flower paintings may not stand alone as art, like those of Redoute', they did win a gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society and the book is a tribute to a long and distinguished horticultural career. It also is something of an illustrated biography and includes a 21-page bibliography of every book or article Thomas has written, a four-page list of about 100 English gardens he has worked on and another four-page list of every plant he "introduced, reintroduced, selected or promoted."

FLOWERING TREES AND SHRUBS, THE BOTANICAL PAINTINGS OF ESTHER HEINS

by Judith Leet

(Abrams, $29.95).

Heins is a plant illustrator whose lucid watercolors of flowering shrubs and trees, drawn from life with occasional dead leaves, insect bites, bark warts and fungus, often can stand alone as art. The 68 paintings in this book may seem like a small sampling of the plant kingdom, but it is a superb selection, largely from the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, and the plants could make a handsome garden just by themselves -- hybrid shrubs like Arnold Promise witch hazel, grafted trees like the single-flowered weeping cherry and native plants like mountain laurel, shadblow, fringe and Franklinia trees. The text by Judith Leet, Heins' daughter, is a lyrical blending of botanical history and down-to-earth garden advice about each plant.

Paul Hodge