The Fane Family: "Devilishly" Talented Artisans and Musicians

By Mark D. Williams, D.M.A.

The Fane (alt.: Fahne) family forms an interesting sidenote to the Williams/Webjørnsen family history. The Fanes were a family of woodcarvers and musicians from the Follo district of Norway. Their abilities were apparently extraordinary enough that they were considered to be in league with the devil. In fact, they were sometimes called "Fanden," which translates as "Devil." Others have suggested that the nickname derived from their sometimes angry temperament.

Portrait of Halvor TORDSEN Fane (Frederiksborg, Hillerød: Det Nationalhistoriske Museum). Image courtesy of Ronny Hanson.

Halvor Tordsen Fane, whose portrait is above, was the patriarch of this artistic family. He lived from c. 1600 to c. 1657 and was married to Jøran Halvorsdtr. The Williams' are descended from him through two different lines of descent.

If one examines the maternal side of Webjørn Webjørnsen Waal's ancestry, one finds that his maternal great-grandmother was Agar Andersdtr Fane (c. 1672-c. 1758). Agar's parents were Anders Halvorsen Fane (c. 1624-c. 1710) and Gunhild Webjørnsdtr. Anders was Halvor Tordsen Fane's oldest son.

Since Webjørn married his first cousin, Dorthe Andersdtr Alvim, there exists another line of descent from the Fane family. Agar Andersdtr Fane's daughter, Gunhild Kjeldsdtr Hauger (c. 1705-1783) married Svend Svendsen Sørum (c. 1692-1765). Their son, Anders Svendsen Alvim (c. 1727-c. 1800) was Dorthe's father. Their daughter, Gunhild Svendsdtr Sørum (1740-1808), was Webjørn's mother.

Rosenborg Castle exterior, Copenhagen. Photo: © 1986, Vincent D. Williams

When Vince and Verla Williams were in Norway in 1986 for his sabbatical, they visited the Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen which was supposed to have some Fane carvings on display.

Ivory carvings, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen. Property of the Danish Royal Collections. Photo: © 1986, Vincent D. Williams.

When they asked the curator about the Fane carvings, he knew exactly what they were talking about and led them to the display where Vince was able to take a photo of a grouping of four ivory carvings. They were told that the carving of the postman on the horse was by one of the Fane family members.

Detail of ivory "Postman" carving, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen. Property of the Danish Royal Collections. Photo: © 1986, Vincent D. Williams.

The Rosenborg also had on display a hand-carved wooden drinking vessel by one of the members of the Fane family. I later discovered this particular goblet probably was carved by Halvor Tordsen Fane's son, Samuel. There are some additional pictures of it further below.

Drinking vessel. 6.420. Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen. Property of the Royal Danish Collections. Photo: © 1986, Vincent D. Williams.

The page for Samuel Halvorsen Fane has some more photos of Fane drinking cups or "kanne."

On 17 Jan 2011 I wrote to the Rosenborg Castle seeking confirmation about the carvings. The curator, Peter Kristiansen, was kind enough to email me back and since his email was very informative, I reproduce it here in its entirety:
Dear Mark Williams,

The postman on the horse was earlier believed to have been carved by Fanden, but it seems not to be true. The figurine is in many details related to works by Jørgen Christensen Garnås, born 1723 in Næs in Hallingdal, and died ca. 1804 in Bergen. He was a “mailcoach” 1750-66, and is known to have been paid 1764-71 by the Danish-Norwegian king for carving figurines of “types” of people in ivory. His figurines were copied by the sculptor Grund when making the so-called Nordmandsdalen at Fredensborg Palace. 5-255.
unfortunately both only in Danish….

The surrounding figurines have nothing to do with Fanden, nor the period. They depict duke Frederik III and duchess Marie Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Carved 1663-67 by German-Danish Joachim Henne. The angel in the front stands on the top of a little shrine of ivory and silver, assembled by David Zech 1657. The ivory-details are probably carved by Ignatius Elhagen. The figures have later been moved and put into more correct connections.

It is correct that Rosenborg possesses two wooden drinking vessels connected to the Fanden family – one ( 25-678) is signed SAMUEL HALVOR 1664, and with the royal Danish coat of arms, and the ciphers of King Frederik III and Queen Sophie Amalie (reigned 1648-70). The other one ( 6-420) is attributed either to Samuel Halvor or to Halvor Fanden. It is very like the first mentioned, but with the ciphers of King Christian V and Queen Charlotte Amalie instead. We know that it is listed in the first inventory of the Royal Kunstkammer of 1674, and Christian V became king in 1670, so it must have been made within these few years. Included photos of both.

The Nationalmuseum in Copenhagen possesses four wooden jugs, more or less attributed to Halvor Fanden and/or Samuel Fanden. One (BCc25) was given to the Kunstkammer in 1728, and the other three (BCc26, D100 and D101) are listed in the first inventory of the Kunstkammer of 1674. Included photos from the book by Bente Gundestrup: The Royal Danish Kunstkammer 1737 (Det kongelige danske Kunstkammer 1737), printed in Copenhagen 1991.

yours sincerely,
Peter Kristiansen
Below are pp. 318-321 from the Gundestrup book. One can see the four wooden "jugs" and two "drinking vessels" mentioned by Kristiansen.

Bente Gundestrup, Det kongelige danske Kunstkammer 1737 (Copenhagen, 1991), 318-321. Used with permission.

When I asked Mr. Kristiansen if it would be ok to reproduce the some of the images, he said that would be fine but that he would send some better quality ones. I recently received them and have reproduced them below along with the descriptions from the Gundestrup book.

Tankard. BCc25. Halvor Fanden. Property of the Royal Danish Collections. Image courtesy of Rosenborg Castle. Used with permission.

Een gammel og meget Curieus udskaaren Kande af Walbirck, hvorpaa Historien om den Israelitiske Fyrste Joseph er forestillet, samme Kande er af Ober Hovmester Mønsting foræret til det Kongelige Kunstkammer Anno 1728 og udskaaren af een Norsk Bonde i Christianiæ District ved Navn Halvor Fanden som i forrige tiider formedelst curieus Snitzverck og besynderlige Inventioner haver været mangfoldig bekiendt.
An old and very cunningly carved Jug of Sycamore Maple, depicting the Story of Joseph, the Israelite Prince, given by the Lord Chamberlain Mønsting to the Royal Kunstkammer in 1728. The Jug was carved by a Norwegian Peasant from the District of Christiania Named Halvor Fanden, previously famed for his cunningly made Carvings and singular Inventions.
* 1728.
1825 til KKM BCc25, senere/later CCa96. Senere/Later til MNO.
Valbirk, H.23.5 cm, D.18 cm. Halvor Fanden?, Norge.
Danske inskriptioner, citater fra 1. Mosebog/Inscriptions in Danish, quotations from Genesis.
TANKARD. Sycamore maple. Norway.

Tankards. BCc26, D100. Halvor and Samuel Fanden. Property of the Royal Danish Collections. Images courtesy of Rosenborg Castle. Used with permission.

To store Kander af Walbirck, kunstig udskaaren af forbemelte Bonde Halvor Fanden og hands Søn Samuel Fanden.

Two large Maple Jugs, skilfully carved by the aforesaid Peasant Halvor Fanden and his Son Samuel Fanden.
1674,19b 1690,71/201.
1689,27 MR.1696,46 MR.1710,II,I,65.
1825 til KKM BCc26-27, senere/later CCa97-98. 1867 til MNO BCc26, D 100.
N02 BCc26, D 100 2 LÅGKRUS.
Valbirk, H.32.5, 31.4 cm, D.21, 16.6 cm. Halvor & Samuel Fanden, Norge, 1600-arene/Norway, 17th cent.
2 TANKARDS. Sycamore maple.

Tankard. D101. Samuel Fanden. Property of the Royal Danish Collections. Image courtesy of Rosenborg Castle. Used with permission.

Een ditto Kande men meget mindre.
A ditto Jug, but much smaller.
1674,19b 1690,71/202.
1689,27 MR.1696,46 MR.1710,II,I,65.
1825 til KKM BCc28, senere/later CCa99. 1867 til MNO D 101.
N02 D 101 LÅGKRUS.
Valbirk, H.19.8 cm, D.12.9 cm. Sign. og dat./Signed and dated: SHS 1663 (Samuel Halvorsøn?), Norge. Latinsk inskription/Inscription in Latin.
TANKARD. Sycamore maple. Norway.

Covered goblet. 25.678 and detail. Samuel Fanden (1664). Property of the Royal Danish Collections. Images courtesy of Rosenborg Castle. Used with permission.

Een ditto kunstig udskaaren, med 3 Løver oven paa Laaget holdende een Krone med Danmarks Vaaben, og paa Siiden Friderici Tertii Navn Chiffre.
A ditto skilfully carved, Cover with 3 Lions holding a Crown with the Danish Coat-of-arms, and on the Side the Monogram of Frederik the Third.
1674,19b: Tvende beggere med log til af Walbirch af samme mester (red.: Halvor Fanden)/Two covered cups in Sycamore Maple, made by the same Carver (ed.: Halvor Fanden). 1690,71/204. 1689,27 MR.1696,46 MR.1710,II,I,64.
1825 til KKM BCc30, senere/later CCa101. Før/Before 1877 til DKK.
DKK 25.678 LÅGPOKAL MED RIGSVÅBEN OG PROVINSVÅBEN. Buksbom, H.29.1 cm. Sign. og dat./Signed and dated: Samuel Halvor 1664.
Norge/Norway. Inskrip./Inscription: F3 SA (Frederik III, Sophie Amalie).

Covered goblet. 6.420. Samuel Fanden. Property of the Royal Danish Collections. Images courtesy of Rosenborg Castle. Used with permission.

Ben ditto samme facon med Christiani Qvinti Navn Chiffre.
A ditto of the same shape with the Monogram of Christian the Fifth.
1674,19b (cf./401) 1690,71/205.
1689,27 MR.1696,46 MR.1710,II,I,65.
1825 til KKM BCc31, senere /later CCa102. 1867 til DKK.
DKK 6.420 LÅGPOKAL MED RIGSVÅBEN OG PROVINSVÅBEN. Valbirk, H.32.8 cm. Samuel Halvor, Norge/Norway. Inskrip./Inscription: CV CA (Christian V, Charlotte Amalie).


Fane-slekta -
Generasjonsvis presentasjon av Tore Skjeggerud etterkommere - Alf Christopherson
Halvor Tordsen Fane -
Halvor Tordsen Fane - Ronny Hanson
Øystein Retvedt, "Fandens Follo-familie," Slektsveven 1 (2003).
Samuel Halvorsen Fanden - Store norske leksikon


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