Ross Winans Whistler was the son of Whistler's half-brother George William Whistler (1822-1869) and his wife Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875). He was born in Russia but the family returned soon after to Britain and then America. He was the brother of Neva Whistler (Mrs Ross R. Winans) (1860-1907). Heand his wife Theodora had one son, Ross Theodore Whistler (1894-1963).
He attended the US Military Academy at West Point, as had Whistler.
The Coast of Brittany y037 was bought from the artist by George William Whistler (1822-1869), bequeathed to his wife Julia de Kay Whistler and on her death passed to her children Neva Whistler and Ross Winans Whistler, before being sold in 1906.
Ross Winans Whistler may also have owned or inherited The Pier: A Grey Note y286, which by 1934 was owned by his son Ross Theodore Whistler, Cambridge, MA, and passed to his first wife, Mary Vinton Murray Whistler (Mrs R.T. Whistler) (1901-1995) before being sold in 1979.
Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980