The Fontana delle Api (Fountain of the Bees, 1644) was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Urban VIII (r. 1623-44), a member of the Barberini family, whose coat of arms comprises three bees.
The delightful little fountain, which stands at one end of the Via Veneto, takes the form of a bee's outspread wing.
The fountain bears an inscription in Latin: 'VRBANVS VIII PONTIFEX MAXIMVS FONTI AD PVBLICVM VRBIS ORNAMENTVM EXSTRVCTO SINGVLARVM VSIBVS SEORSIM COMMODITATE HAC CONSVLVIT ANNO MDCXLIV PONT XXI' ('Urban VIII Pontifex Maximus, having built a fountain for the public ornamentation of the city, also built this little fountain to be of service to private citizens in the year 1644, the eleventh of his pontificate').
The phrase 'public ornamentation' is a reference to the nearby Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain), which Bernini had completed the year before. This fountain, a much larger affair, graces the centre of the Piazza Barberini.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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