The color ochre actually comes from the natural earth, mixed with ferric oxide and variants of clay and sand. Since iron oxide is one of the most common minerals to be found, it's no wonder the pigment can be acquired almost anywhere. The most used shade of ochre comes from hydrated limonite, an amorphous, secondary mineral.
The hills of Roussillon in Provence, France is one of the most popular sources of the pigment since the 18th century. For prehistoric times, the color was reckoned for decorative use, according to archaeologist Leroi Gourhan.
The color is often associated with royalty and power. Egyptians used the color for tomb painting, meant for painting the skin tone of women. The Ancient Romans would use the pigment for the same purpose of coloring skin tone, but also use it for background color, whether for villas or towns. The most prominent would be the murals of Pompeii.
As a member of the earth pigments, ochre is a popular shade among painters and is one of the earliest colors for oil painting as its natural pigment dries quickly and sufficiently gives enough load of color. In photography, there is an alternative printing process called the anthotype originating from John Herschel. The anthotype is used to create images using photosensitive material from plants. The process would result from greenish to brownish-yellow prints. Sometimes,natural scenery can look very ochre as well during the golden hours.