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Ede often described himself as a ‘friend of artists’, and much of his collection was acquired over five decades through these friendships. Moreover, in 1927 Jim purchased a substantial body of works by the French sculptor, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, who had been killed in World War I: ‘A great quantity of his work was dumped in my office at the Tate.’ Soon after, Nicholson and Wood introduced Ede to the work of St Ives fisherman-turned-painter Alfred Wallis. In the following decade he and Wallis exchanged numerous letters (some preserved in the Archive), and Jim acquired over one hundred of the artist’s paintings and drawings.
During the years he and Helen spent abroad (1936-56), Jim did not acquire new work. However, once in Cambridge he actively resumed collecting. It was at this point that he became interested in new artists, including William Congdon, Italo Valenti and Elisabeth Vellacott.
Given the care devoted by Jim to the display of objects and artworks and to creating subtle ‘conversations’ between them, since his departure the house has been preserved virtually unchanged. Today many consider it a work of art in its own right.