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IN BRIEF

July 11, 1993|Sue Martin

Regency Design 1790-1840: Gardens Buildings Interiors Furniture by John Morley. (Abrams: $150; 448 pp.) Now m'dears, don't go up into the boughs! If your pockets are to let, perhaps two of you can pool resources in acquiring this tome! This is definitely a capital compendium of all that is comme il faut in Regency interior design. From those delightful Gothic libraries, to the marvelous moonlit conservatories, to Mr. Sheraton's lovely furniture designs, this brings to life the full panoply of style. And the Regency, as anyone who's read Georgette Heyer (the great-grandmother of Regency design) knows, was a parade of the exotic as well as the classic Greek and Roman styles in architecture: there was dabbling in Etruscan, Pompeian and Chinese as well as the cottage orne . Money was of little object and though it wasn't until Victorian times that things reached an almost unbearable use of surface clutter, one can see from this book where the Victorian love of frou-frou began. Morley, writing with a love of the period as well as a scholarly approach, divides the book into: Parks and Gardens, Exterior Architecture, Interior Decoration and Furniture. There is a great selection of color plates, especially of the Prince Regent's (Prinny to his friends don't you know) Carleton House in London, the sight of so many lavish balls (and midnight rendezvous).

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