A painting of THE Beatles which was rejected by the band after the artist took five years to complete it has been donated to a British gallery.

The picture - which is part of a $9.5 million (GBP5 million) collection donated to the PALLANT HOUSE GALLERY, in Chichester, England, by PROFESSOR COLIN ST JOHN WILSON - features the FAB FOUR in their trademark pudding bowl haircuts.

But by the time artist PETER BLAKE had finished work on the painting in 1968, the band - Sir Paul McCartney, John Lennon, GEORGE HARRISON AND RINGO STARR - had radically altered their image and they refused to sign the white boxes above each figure.

Professor Wilson explains, "Peter Blake took so long to do the painting. He didn't finish it until 1968. By the time he did finish it, The Beatles wouldn't sign it, because they said they didn't look like that anymore.

"They were all beads and beards by that time, but I think their decision shows a remarkable lack of a sense of humour."

04/03/2004 02:10