Cyril Joshua Ross (né Miselevich) was born into a Lithuanian-Jewish family in Stepney, London, England on 21 December 1891. A successful businessman and philanthropist, he was the owner of the West End furriery store Swears & Wells and, as Ben Uri's longstanding Treasurer, provided secure storage in the vaults for the Ben Uri Collection during the Second World War. In 1945 the Hungarian émigré painter Kalman Kemeny won via a competition a commission to execute portraits of the Ben Uri's two most prominent committee members - Cyril Ross and Mrs Ethel Solomon, both of whom, as an introduction to the catalogue of the exhibition Ben Uri Highlights: Key Works and Figures 1915-1990 records, ‘provided leadership during the difficult war years and the 1950s’. He also helped the Ben Uri secure new premises in Portman Street (1944–59). Ross was a prominent figure in Jewish circles. He served as treasurer of both the Zangwill Fellowship and the Jewish National Fund and helped in many causes, including offering support to the impecunious German-Jewish artist Alfred Lomnitz (known as 'Lom'). He served as President of the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor for more than 30 years, keeping it running throughout the Second World War. In 1947 he was awarded the OBE for his services.

Ross also achieved moderate success as a self-taught amateur artist, only beginning to paint, in a traditional manner, at the age of 40, but then participating in exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1945), Galerie Bernheim Jeune, Paris (1951), the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours, London (1952), the Royal Institute Galleries (1954), and at Ben Uri in 1968 and 1972 - the latter celebrating his 80th birthday. He was a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers/Printmakers.

Cyril Ross died in London, England on 7 July 1973. Since his death, a document released by the National Archives Kew (KV2/3171) suggests that between 1940 and 1954 Ross, under the alias Rosenberg, served as treasurer of the Committee for the Jewish army in 1942, was associated in 1947 with the Irgun Zvei Leumi, and Head of an intelligence network in Britain in 1950.