This notable painting, dated to the mid 1860s, is striking primarily for its extreme stylization. It has been compared to the work of Bart van der Leck and described as Cubism avant la lettre, but the style is more reminiscent of the Italian-Swiss painter Segantini, in whose later work natural forms were similarly reduced to their bare essentials. Several other versions of this subject, also painted by Matthijs, are known, but this is one of the most stylized. The earliest of these is an 1861 drawing in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow ; there is also a watercolour formerly in the possession of Jozef Israëls and later of his son, Isaac. A painted version in which the stylization is carried even further (formerly in the collection W. Hoos), is dated 1866.
De Gruyter believed that the scene should be looked at from the child's point of view, thus giving the kid a toy-like aspect. Braakhuis and Van der Vliet, who attempted a detailed psychological analysis of Matthijs Maris in their article, placed The introduction in the context of his numerous other depictions of children. Thus they saw it as a rendering of the original state of childhood, still protected by the mother figure. The kid thus becomes the symbolic equivalent of the child, just as the child in Philip Otto Runge's The mother at the spring is looking at his own reflection; in time, the child's acquisition of knowledge would rob him of this early innocence and drive him out of paradise, severing the bond between human and animal (Matthijs had a very low opinion of education). It is worth noting that in the version formerly in the W. Hoos collection the kid is separated from the child by a wooden branch, creating a greater sense of isolation of the two parties.
Source: R. de Leeuw, J. Sillevis, Ch. Dumas (eds.), The Hague School: Dutch masters of the 19th century, The Hague 1983