ArtworksPhilip SurreyThe Argument, 19511910-1990Sold
Inscriptionssigned and dated, 'Surrey 51' (lower left)
Watson Art Galleries, Montreal, 1951.
Dominion Gallery, Montreal.
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal.
Kastel Gallery, Montreal.
Dr. Norman Tepper, Montreal.
A.K. Prakash, Toronto;
Alan Klinkhoff Gallery.
Montreal, Watson Art Galleries, Exhibition, November 1951, no. 13Montreal, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Philip Surrey Retrospective Exhibition, September 2004, no. 63
Extraordinarily, in the evolution of The Argument of 1951, as it resolved itself into larger formats one of the transitions is that many of the male figures are female and looking much more sporty than did the men in the sketch.
It is not uncommon that Philip Surrey’s paintings evoke the less endearing traits of his fellow man. In The Argument Surrey has chosen not to paint the fun filled baseball game, but instead an argument at the game. What was the argument? Perhaps it’s about the call that ended the game. Conspicuously absent are the baseball players. Are these the fathers of the players? Packing up the bats, the lone figure on the right one might reasonably speculate is a cameo of Philip Surrey, as is his custom, not engaging with other actors in his paintings. In a list of paintings he revised in 1986, for a proposed book Surrey refers to a painting of 1952, The Baseball Players (Joueuses de baseball), notably the feminine (fig. 1). Are these then the fathers or spouses of the girls who had been playing? The Argument is a richly painted and highly desirable painting from this important generation of his work.
One of few additional references we have located to baseball players comes from his autobiographical notes (actually transcribed by his wife Margaret), documenting Philip’s painting process. “Sometimes I bring a half finished one downstairs and hang it, sometimes for weeks. Eventually I will see what needs to be done and take it back upstairs and do some more to it. ‘The Baseball Players’ hung over our dining room table for a year with all the players nude. Then I went up to my painting room and clothed them’. 
1. Margaret Surrey, Biographical notes of Philip Surrey, Philip and Margaret Day Fonds, P85A, National Archives of Canada, Estate Philip Surrey, p. 159B54of 120