Theodora Kane, 72, an artist and art teacher who was active in Washington for many years, died Tuesday in Beebe Hospital in Lewes, Del., after a long illness.

She lived in Washington and had summer homes in Lewes and in Prince William County, Va.

Mrs. Kane devoted her life to the world of art.She started painting even before she learned to read.

At the age of 14, she was enrolled in the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Three years later, at the age of 17, she persuaded her parents to let her travel alone to Paris, where she studied painting.

Later, she enrolled in the Westminster School of Art in London., where she met and married Army Maj. Norman E. Kane, who was a U.S. Treasury Department lawyers representating this country in various financial matters in Europe.

They remained in Europe for 10 years, spending much of that time in Vienna. During that period, Mrs. Kane sketched and painted wherever they traveled. She had her first show in Vienna.

She worked in both oils and watercolors. She painted some portraits and still-lifes, but concentrated on landscapes.

She and her husband came to Washington in 1935, and Mrs. Kane entered classes at the Corcoran School of Art. Several years later she opened the Georgetown Galleries to afford local artists a chance to exhibit their work with the advantage of a gallery background.

In the meantime, she had exhibited with the Washington Society of Artists. Later, she had individual shows sponsored by the White Gallery of Art here and the Number Ten Gallery in New York,

At her death, the Rehoboth Art League, of which she was an active member, was holding an exhibition of her work. Many of her paintings won awards in competitions.

Mrs. Kane had been an early contributor to the State Department's Art in Embassies program, established by the late Nancy Kefauver in the 1960s. About a half-dozen of her paintings hang in American embassies abroad.

During World II, Mrs Kane cut back on her painting to work full-time for the British Army mission here.

With the war's end, she returned to art with renewed enthusiasm. She decided to share that enthusiasm with others and opened a small studio. She welcomed would-be artists who had never put a brush to convas and patiently introduced them to the basics.

Mrs. Kane believed there was a bit of the artist in everyone who wanted to express themselves on canvas whether or not they had natural talent. No matter how inept beginners might be, she always offered encouragement. She also developed a program for at home students.

"I have always thought there were many people who would like to study art but can's go to organized classes, so I have begun a project which I think is unique in Washington. I teach art in the student's house," she explained.

Mrs. Kane also was active for more than 30 years in the Arts Club of Washington. She was the main force behind the club's annual exhibitons and its elaborate annual costume balls.

In later years, she was a regular passenger on cruise ships, painting as she cruised and holding last night exhibitions a which passengers often bought all the pictures she had to show.

Mrs. Kane died in 1958.

Her only survivor is a brother, Edwin Greeman, of Florida.