I am collecting quotes for an essay I am writing up on why Adams should be considered a pictorialist. You might argue that pictorialism is a big tent that includes a bunch of smudged gum bichromate prints, but you pretty much have to allow that whatever Henry Peach Robinson said about it must also be considered pictorialism, what with him being, you know, the founder and leading practitioner and so forth. I'll share a few choice ones here, that seem particularly apropos.
Henry Peach Robinson, Pictorial Effect in Photography, this book is available free on books.google.com and is an excellent little volume. I recommend it heartily:
This is one of the best descriptions of Ansel Adams landscapes I've ever seen, and it was written 40ish years before he was born:
It is not open to the photographer to produce his effects by departing from the facts of nature, as has been the practice with the painter for ages; but he may use all legitimate means of presenting the story he has to tell in the most agreeable manner, and it is his imperative duty to avoid the mean, the base, and the ugly; and to aim to elevate his subject, to avoid awkward forms, and to correct the unpicturesque.
On the subject of smudgy, out of focus, blurry, messes. Arguably, the stuff that characterizes the very tail end, and what many people think of as the whole of, pictorialism.
This theory, that the details of the larger portion of the picture must be out of focus, will not bear the light of argument.
Regarding an unnamed portraitist, I think perhaps Cameron, who made some pretty blurry pictures:
[...]; it is not the mission of photography to produce smudges. [...] but photography is pre-eminently the art of definition, and when an art departs from its function it is lost.
I feel confident asserting that HPR's book essentially disavows what pictorialism became, and rather neatly describes the work Adams would do as an artist. But don't take my word for it, these quotations are certainly out of context. Read the book, if you're interested.