Coffeetable books celebrate the wild, the sublime, the sumptuous

The Last of the Wild Horses, by Martin Harbury and Ron Watts. New York: Doubleday & Co. 192 pp. $30. Author Martin Harbury and photographer Ron Watts combine forces to produce a powerfully moving, quietly sympathetic book about the plight of the wild horses around the world. Many of the nicely reproduced photographs are double-spreads, and Watts has caught the many moods of these shy, yet inquisitive, animals. TNew Zealand: The Glorious Islands, by Ray Joyce and Bill Saunders. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co. 208 pp. $40.

New Zealand is unique in its variety of landscape - hills, grasslands, mountains, volcanoes, and ocean coastlines. Photographer Ray Joyce and writer Bill Saunders have teamed up to produce a captivating look at the North and South Islands that make up this country. The use of foldout pages allows the viewer to see large, impressive landscape shots. Rome: Mirror of the Centuries, by Paolo Marton. New York: The Vendome Press (distributed by the Viking Press). Unnumbered. $50.

Rome is water-splashed piazzas, colorful flowers, cyprus groves, glittering boulevards, and brilliant sunsets.

Paolo Marton, an ingenious Italian photographer, has explored the many moods of this multifaceted city. His photos capture the antiquity of the Appian Way worn smooth by the feet of Roman soldiers setting out to conquer the world, the ancient dignity and enormity of the Roman Colosseum, and the immensity of St. Peter's Basilica, Bernini's grandiose architectural masterpiece. The ivory paper and the golden glow of the photographs emulate the colors of Rome at sunset. The Bible and Its Painters, by Bruce Bernard. New York: Macmillan. 300 pp. $24. 95.

Bruce Bernard has compiled a breathtaking book. Selections from the Bible - beginning with the creation of man and ending with the Last Judgment - are juxtaposed with paintings illustrating the verses. Artists represented include Michelangelo, Lucas Cranach the Elder, William Blake, and Albrecht Durer.

The reader will gain new insights into the Bible and its relationship to art, as well as a sense of wonder at the richness of biblical history. Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters, by Barbara Ehrlich White. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 312 pp. $67.50.

Pierre-August Renoir was prodigious in painting, watercolor, sketching, and drawing, but his artwork rarely reflected the struggle and anguish of his life. Barbara White, a renowned Renoir scholar, masterfully contrasts his difficulties as an individual with the gentle, colorful works he produced.

White's book is gorgeous - the colors brilliant, the layout spacious, and the text a delight to read. Africa Adorned, by Angela Fisher. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 304 pp. $45.

Africa's peoples are as diverse as the beauty, styles, and craftsmanship of the adornments they wear. Ivory, gold, silver, glass beads, shells, and coral are among the many materials used.

These striking adornments are not always just for decoration; they represent values, beliefs, and economic status within the tribe.

Through color and black-and-white photographs, Angela Fisher conveys a strong sense of African adornment and its relationship to tribal life.

Lisa Lane is on the Monitor's book page staff.

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