Robert Delaunay chose the view into the ambulatory of the Parisian Gothic church Saint-Séverin as the subject of his first series of paintings, in which he charted the modulations of light streaming through the stained-glass windows and the resulting perceptual distortion of the architecture. The subdued palette and the patches of color that fracture the smooth surface of the floor point to the influence of Paul Cézanne as well as to the stylistic elements of Georges Braque's early Cubist landscapes. Delaunay said that the Saint-Séverin theme in his work marked “a period of transition from Cézanne to Cubism.”
The artist's attraction to windows and window views, linked to the Symbolists' use of glass panes as metaphors for the transition from internal to external states, culminated in his Simultaneous Windows series. (The series derives its name from the French scientist Michel-Eugène Chevreul's theory of simultaneous contrasts of color, which explores how divergent hues are perceived at once.) Delaunay stated that these works began his “constructive” phase, in which he juxtaposed and overlaid translucent contrasting complementary colors to create a synthetic, harmonic composition. Guillaume Apollinaire wrote a poem about these paintings and coined the word Orphism to describe Delaunay's endeavor, which he believed was as independent of descriptive reality as was music (the name derives from Orpheus, the mythological lyre player). Although Simultaneous Windows (2nd Motif, 1st Part) contains a vestigial green profile of the Eiffel Tower, it is one of the artist's last salutes to representation before his leap to complete abstraction.