The book, prepared originally as a dissertation for the Oxford Doctorate of Philosophy, is published posthumously. It gives the measure of the scientific quality of its young author, prematurely deceased in November 1958 at the age of only thirty-four, and it constitutes without doubt one of the most relevant contributions offered during the last few years to our knowledge of the figurative world of ancient Etruria. J. Boardman and Mrs Brown have edited the manuscript for publication, completing it with careful and valuable analytical indexes of sites, museums, bibliographical sources, and subjects. J. D. Beazley has added a short biographical note.
As the author himself explicitly declares in the preface, the book is a history of the representation of the lion in Etruscan art from the end of the 8th to the end of the 3rd century B.C. The work does not set out to be a corpus, but in effect it assembles and makes use of all the material which offers even the slightest interest from the diverse points of view of typology, technique, or style. The research is carried out on the basis of iconography as a study of the origins, the rate and means of penetration and diffusion of individual typological variants of the lion figure, and of the backgrounds, chronological succession, and inter-relationships of the different classes of lion representations. However, in view of the exceptional importance which this theme assumes in the figurative production of the Etruscan world chiefly in the orientalizing period, but also later, in the 6th and 5th centuries, the survey inevitably finishes by discussing the major problems in the history of Etruscan art: its links with Greek and Oriental sources of inspiration, its original qualities and conservatism, its individual centres of production, and its overall stylistic development. In his direct and detailed analyses, the Author says the last word about certain monuments or groups of monuments which are classed among the most famous and significant in the whole Etruscan art—for example, the Regolini-Galassi fibula, the situlae from La Pania, the bronzes from Perugia, the lion of Val Vidone, and the chimaera of Arezzo.