Books: For Mind & Eye

They are known in the trade as "gift books," and they assuredly qualify: usually big and expensive, they make handsome presents that flatter the recipient with their implied suggestion that someone cares a lot—and carry no obligation to do more than leaf through them once. But the tag is unnecessarily depreciative, for the best of the gift books can be exhilarating visual as well as literary experiences: passports to fine art the viewer might never otherwise see, inaccessible realms he might never otherwise visit. Among the best of the recent gift books:

PRECIOUS STONES...

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