Ruth Hutton Ancker, 78, a sculptor who had held exhibitions of her work in New York, Paris and Rome, died Thursday at Mount Vernon Hospital. She had a heart ailment.

She worked in all media and was described by one art critic as a "modern traditionalist." After coming to Washington in 1964, she did mostly portraits.

Mrs. Ancker was born in Bloomsburg, Pa. and was a graduate of Bloomsburg State College. She studied at the Parson's School of Design in New York and became a fashion illustrator and designer. She was sent to Paris by several U.S. publications in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Returning to this country, she earned another degree at Columbia University and then taught art at Cooper Union and Pratt Institute in New York and at the universities of Alabama and Cincinnati. She also took further studies at the University of New Mexico and the Cincinnati Art Academy.

Mrs. Ancker studied sculpture with the late Oronzio Maldarelli in New York. Her exhibitions there and abroad followed.She also was honored with an exhibition at the State Fine Arts Museum in Harrisburg, Pa. Her work is in a number of private and public collections.

She is survived by her husband, W. Mason Ancker, of the home in Alexandria; a brother, Terry G. Hutton, of Pleasant Mount, Pa.; two sisters, Helen Morris and Emily Hutton, both of Huntington, L.I., N.Y. two half-brothers, Zebulon and William Hutton, both of Bloomsburg; a stepson, Leif Ancker, of Cleveland, and three stepgrandchildren.