The blue pigment ultramarine, was notably used in tempera painting. The pigment was traditionally extracted from lapis lazuli, The blue seen in nature has always been difficult to tackle in art or design; it cannot be readily created from plant or animal dyes, as can other colours. Ultramarine meaning "from overseas" is a blue used for centuries by Western and Eastern artists. Ultramarine was a costly material and detailed contracts were used to establish that the main blue of a work must be ultramarine. Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci (1446-1524) was given the popular name Le Pérugin or Il Perugino. Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) provided an anecdotal story of the use ultramarine was put to by Pietro Perugino in his Lives of the Artists.
- c. 1496-1500 - In the West the finest grades of paint were reserved for Christ and the Virgin. For the altarpiece of the chapel in the Certosa di Pavia, a Carthusian monastery near Milan, Perugino used ultramarine of exceptional quality for the Virgin's robes. the altarpiece which is oil with some egg tempera painting is on display in the National Gallery, London.
- 1523 - The Venetian painter Titian used ultramarine mixed with lead white to speed up the drying process and hence to prevent cracking of the surfacein the oil painting Bacchus and Ariadne. He used ultramarine for Ariadne's cloak.
- c. 1658-1661 - Johannes Vermeer uses ultramarine blue for the Milkmaid's apron in his painting The Milkmaid.
- 4 February 1828 - prize of six thousand franc awarded by the Societé d'Encouragement pour L'Industrie Nationale to Jean Baptiste Guimet who submitted a synthetic ultramarine process he had secretly developed in 1826.